As a military veteran, I am compelled to respond to Kim Ferraro's Sept. 27 letter about Agent Orange use in the Vietnam War. Ferraro said, "Agent Orange caused injury to people who were exposed, but it was not injury that was meant to happen or anticipated."
I suggest Ferraro research further about the tragic history of Agent Orange.
Admiral E.R. Zumwalt submitted a classified report to the Veterans Administration in 1990 concerning associated health effects from Agent Orange exposure. The classified report is now available online. This report discloses the U.S. military "dispensed Agent Orange in concentrations six to 25 times the manufacturer's suggested rate."
Furthermore, Zumwalt quotes Dr. David Clary, a government scientist who worked with Agent Orange, as saying, "When we (military scientists) initiated the herbicide program in the 1960s, we were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin contamination in the herbicide. We were even aware that the 'military' formulation had a higher dioxin concentration than the 'civilian' version due to the lower cost and speed of manufacture. However, because the material was to be used on the 'enemy,' none of us were overly concerned."
Ferraro also says Agent Orange "was used as a defoliant to expose enemy movements covered by jungle overgrowth." The U.S. military also purposely targeted food crops with Agent Orange. What should we call using toxic chemicals to destroy innocent impoverished people's food crops during war, which could lead to mass starvation?
I found estimates of hundreds of thousands to millions killed by Agent Orange in Vietnam and also hundreds of thousands maimed by birth defects.
The truth about Agent Orange use in Vietnam might not be very palatable, but it is nonetheless the truth.
- John Meinhold, Portsmouth, NH