Town hall meeting planned on Agent Orange

Published: Oct. 2, 2013 at 10:33 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2013 at 10:33 PM CDT
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"The Legacy of Exposure to Agent Orange on Vietnam Veterans and their Offspring."

That's the subject of a town hall meeting planned this month by Vietnam Veterans of America.

Organizers hope to educate and inform about past and future health issues for veterans and their families.

Those who lived through the 60s remember Agent Orange as the dioxin-laden defoliant used by the military to clear away dense vegetation during the war in Vietnam. Even though decades have passed, some Vietnam veterans and their families say Agent Orange continues wreak havoc in their lives.

Sandy Morgan suspects it may be why she recently lost her daughter, Cindy Morgan James, to cancer.

"I just lost a daughter. She had a very rare cancer, and her first child was born with just a brain stem," said Morgan.

Morgan's husband served stateside, but she said much of the contaminated equipment was transported to the base where he worked. She believes toxic substances were carried into her home and into their lives.

"He was stationed at El Toro, which is in California. It is now an EPA Superfund site," she said.

Vietnam Veterans of America are sponsoring a town hall meeting for those affected by Agent Orange.

State president Terry Courville served in Vietnam.

"It's been proven five generations: that we passed it on to five generations now," said Courville.

He urges veterans to attend the town hall.

"If you were in Vietnam, whether you were on the ground or in an office, you drank the water and it was contaminated, and you slept in sheets that were probably contaminated by washing, and then people back in the states, because our equipment finally found its way into the United States, some of it. They washed it down. It still had that Agent Orange herbicide on it," said Courville.

Sandra Lopez's husband served in Vietnam. She said there's a nationwide movement to get veterans to register.

"There's many we speak with, their wives, 'Oh, no. He doesn't want to, he doesn't have nothing wrong with him. He doesn't need to be registered.' Yes they need to be registered. We don't know, with our age, how this Agent Orange is going to affect them," said Lopez.

Lester Guidry is what they call a Blue Water Vietnam Veteran.

"I was on an aircraft carrier operating probably a hundred miles north of the Da Nang areas, which is one of the most contaminated areas, and where we're off the DMZ area. I'm the only one in the family that's got ischemic heart disease. I'm the only one in the family that has diabetes," said Guidry.

They hope the town meeting will provide possible answers to ongoing questions veterans and their family members may have associated with exposure to Agent Orange and other chemicals used in the Vietnam War.

The town hall meeting is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19. It will be held at the American Legion Post 1 at 1530 Ninth Street in Lake Charles. It's near Second Avenue.

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