In recent days, federal officials agreed to provide millions of dollars in disability benefits to at least 2,100 Air Force reservists and active duty forces that were exposed to Agent Orange on airplanes used to spread it during the war.
NBC News reported:
The new federal rule, approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget, takes effect [June 26]. It adds to an Agent Orange-related caseload that already makes up 1 out of 6 disability checks issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs.The expected cost over 10 years is $47.5 million, with separate health care coverage adding to the price tag.
As noted by the non-partisan Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., the herbicide was a mixture used by the military to defoliate large swaths of Vietnamese jungle as a way of exposing North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops that were using the jungle as cover to move men and material into South Vietnam. It was part of a color-coded herbicide campaign that also aimed to deprive the enemy of food by destroying crops.
The mixture, which was used until the early 1970s, contained a chemical contaminant known as dioxin. Even though its use ended more than 40 years ago, the dioxin contaminant continues to have a harmful effect today. As many Vietnam vets know, dioxin has been linked to cancers, birth defects, diabetes and other ailments and disabilities.