Target: Dan Shea, member of the Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign core committee with Veterans for Peace
Goal: Praise his dedication to seeking justice for veterans and civilians exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, whose families continue to struggle with terrible birth defects and other symptoms
Long after the end of the Vietnam War veterans and civilians exposed to the toxic chemical Agent Orange and their families continue to deal with the aftermath. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acknowledges a terrifying list of conditions linked to Agent Orange exposure including prostate and lung cancer, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. The children of people exposed to the toxin often struggle with crippling birth defects, with some babies even born without eyes. Faced with their government’s halfhearted aid efforts, veterans are taking matters into their own hands: helping educate the public about the war’s lingering impacts while demanding increased support for its victims.
For most Americans the war in Vietnam ended decades ago, yet for victims of toxic herbicide exposure the damage continues even today. Images of planes spreading Agent Orange on Vietnam’s forests–an attempt to expose resistance fighters concealed by the tree canopy–seem a distant memory. President Obama’s massive Vietnam commemoration campaign has largely ignored “the illnesses caused by the use of herbicides and other horrific costs of war,” according to Street Roots. Dan Shea, a former Marine who served in Vietnam, blames his exposure to the herbicide for the suffering and death of his son–and he is not alone.
Together with other members of Veterans for Peace Shea works to pass legislation to expand medical assistance to victims of Agent Orange. The VA refuses to acknowledge most birth defects as related to exposure unless the veteran in question is a woman, yet many men share tragedies similar to Shea’s. Do Duc Diu, a Vietnamese veteran, has watched 12 of his young children die from conditions he says are the result of his exposure to the poison. He shares his story in the documentary Lighter Than Orange, being screened by Shea’s chapter of Veterans for Peace as part of a “Full Disclosure Film Festival.”
Shea’s dedication to the cause is truly inspiring. He participated in the World Social Forum in Venezuela, served as a delegate to the March 2006 Veterans Agent Orange Conference in Hanoi and as a board member with Veterans for Peace. Praise the dedication of Shea and veterans like him, working to raise awareness and support for fellow victims of the Vietnam War’s ongoing, toxic legacy.
Dear Mr. Shea,
I am writing to thank you for your incredible dedication to seeking justice for all victims of Agent Orange exposure. Your efforts are helping raise awareness about the seriousness of herbicide poisoning. Only this awareness can inspire recognition, legislative action and a shift in policy.
Together with other Veterans for Peace you are helping address the great injustices inherent in war. Thank you for your efforts, and for your leadership as an agent of crucial change. May your family–and all those impacted by exposure to Agent Orange and other defoliants–know justice.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: RicHard-59 via Wikimedia Commons