Town hall meeting about Agent Orange discusses genetic legacy of chemical

Local - 3/17/2013 6:37 PM by Rebecca Turco
FAYETTEVILLE - About 180 people attended a town hall meeting in Fayetteville about Agent Orange and how it effects not only veterans, but their children and grandchildren.

"Agent orange is probably one of the most toxic chemicals that exists," explained Mokie Porter of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). "Its health impact on the veterans and their families is tremendous."

Porter said VVA is hosting town hall meetings across the country to spread this message. "We're trying to do this in an effort to get a grassroots movement to get our government to take action and provide assistance, medical care, research and treatment for these children - some of whom are now adults - and their children and their children's children."

Vice President of VVA Fred Elliott said he believes his grandson's Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, is associated with Elliott's exposure to Agent Orange. "It upsets me greatly that I am in some way responsible for my grandson's condition because I was exposed to these substances without knowing what the health effects would be," he said.

Porter said many Vietnam veterans do not realize the health issues they and their families may face could be related to Agent Orange. Vietnam Veteran Terry Copenhaver of Fayetteville agrees. "I worked all my life and then all of a sudden, I got sick," he said. "I'm not blaming it on Agent Orange, but most likely that's a lot of the contributing factor now."

Vietnam-era Veteran Stephen House said Agent Orange is not a dead issue. He said the government needs to accept this and expand treatment to those affected by the chemical. "There is no reversal for dioxins," he explained. "They can't incinerate it, they can't dump it at sea. And it's going to come back to haunt {the government} and they know it."

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