Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kerry : Agent Orange and an American Family

Agent Orange. A substance many modern Americans know little about and how it devastated an entire generation. This true story by Clifford Linedecker relates the story of Kerry, the daughter of Michael and Maureen Ryan. Kerry was born shortly after Michael returned from Vietnam. She was born with over 22 major birth defects and deformities. The cause - Michael's exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam.

Agent Orange was a substance sprayed on the jungles surrounding military bases and battle areas in order to defoliate the plants. And it worked amazingly well. The soldiers were told the substance was harmless to humans. They did not wear protective gear and even worse, they bathed in and drank contaminated water. The most highly exposed soldiers died shortly after returning from Vietnam. Others were periodically sick as the toxin slowly released in their system. Even today, Vietnam veterans are dying of aggressive cancers or suffering from lingering health problems. The people who live in defoliated areas of Vietnam are still suffering today, unable to use their land for food production and dying of cancers.

And the story gets even sadder as we learn that the children of Vietnam veterans are suffering from this toxic exposure. Kerry somehow managed to survive despite enormous challenges, living until 2006. Doctors could not explain how one child could be born with some many problems. As the Ryan's tried to help their daughter, they began to put the pieces together. Other Vets were also dying or sick. They were having children with unexplained birth defects and problems. And soon it became clear that Agent Orange was the likely source. Soon the Ryans became the center of the Agent Orange story and testified before Congress in the hopes that Vietnam Veterans and their families could get the help they needed.

Their efforts were not entirely in vain. Many veterans are getting helped, but the bureaucracy of the Veteran's Administration is still a major roadblock. And even all these years later, Vietnam Veterans are being denied treatment either out right or through delayed appointments and bureaucratic nightmares.

This story is important because it tells us what our government did to our soldiers. We don't know what lingering effect and how long this toxic exposure will last. What damage has been and will be passed from one generation to the next? We don't really know and it seems, sadly, that very few care.

Book Rating: 5 stars

This book is now out of print, but is available at nominal cost from third-party sellers on Amazon or at a public library.

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

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