Effects of Agent Orange

agent orangeColleagues, esteemed scientists, human rights activists, organizers of this event, and fellow victims: I am here today to give you an honest update concerning the general attitude of Americans regarding our plight.

Just last week the world has witnessed what unbridled and uncontrolled greed can do when in the hands of politicians controlled by powerful special interest lobbies representing the wealthiest 2% of Americans and the multi-billion dollar multi-national corporations of which they have vested interests. Their message was clear: unless they got exactly what they wanted, they were prepared to create conditions in which the United States, for the first time in our nation’s history, would default on our debts-not only destroying the American economy, but the global economy as well.

Sadly the Obama Administration caved into these unreasonable and immoral demands: no taxes for the rich while eliminating many tax write-offs utilized by working poor families but at the same time preserving write offs on luxury items that could only be utilized by the extremely wealthy as with the utilization of corporate jets for instance; the continuation of tax breaks for the wealthy multi-national corporations which, in essence, exempts them from paying any tax at all, while at the same time pay their CEOs millions of dollars in bonuses.

While protecting the extremely wealthy, the Republican agenda also targeted for destruction institutions which they feel are anti-American and anti-Christian: labor unions and the right of common workers to organize and bargain collectively; organizations that assist women such as Family Planning centers; and programs to assist poor people, women and children; as well as welfare, housing, and food stamps for the extremely needy. These are the same people that have no qualms starting wars that none of their relatives fight in yet they reap tremendous financial benefits.

And when it comes time to pay for the expenses created by their actions, they have the political power to excuse themselves and place the entire burden on the backs of the middle and lower classes who will never have their political power and are not currently represented in Congress nor does it seem they ever will. In merry old England, they had a character, Robin Hood, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Our American lawmakers are the reverse Robin Hood as they steal from the poor and give to the rich.

The United States of Corporate America is very powerful and the misinformation, disinformation about Agent Orange, and their victims, of which they release to controlled media sources is very deceitful. For example in this issue of the government’s AGENT ORANGE REVIEW it talks about all the vast and wonderful Agent Orange programs that are available to American veterans. I don’t know what this would be called in Vietnam, but we generally refer to this type of lie as “bull manure.” I will decode for you the real meaning of their carefully worded release: “when the regulation is final” means there is a proposal to assist veterans, but it will never be implemented; “eligible veterans may receive compensation” means there will be a law to provide for compensation under certain circumstances, but it will not apply to you.

Remember the Veterans Administration employs thousands of lawyers NOT to assist veterans with the claims process, but to prevent them from obtaining benefits as a cost saving measure to insure wealthy people and corporations will not have to pay taxes. “We support our troops” really means we support the profits they generate from war efforts and after that particular usefulness is ended, they can fend for themselves. This particular issue of AGENT ORANGE REVIEW also talks about a wonderful program that treats spina bifida in the children of veterans.What is doesn’t tell the reader is that the V.A. was opposed to this program but President Bill Clinton made it into law by the utilization of his executive privilege and even then he had to fight the V.A. to implement it.

Remember that lawsuit American veterans were allowed to institute against the chemical companies? What you don’t know is this: yes, millions of dollars was allegedly won for U.S. veterans; so, how much did we actually receive? After months of having to prove I was indeed a U.S. veteran that was in a sprayed area and undergoing medical examination and providing vast pounds of medical records to prove I, at that point in time, had 14 tumors removed from my body-I was awarded $1,000 a year for 6 years, and I was at the high end of the scale the courts worked out for us.

So, where did the money go? All law firms allowed to represent us were approved by the government-and there is your answer. These dregs of society who don’t know the meaning of suffering or anguish legally stole funds that should have alleviated some of our misery. Even today, people in the legal profession speak about the ‘great victory’ they achieved for America’s veterans but they always fail to tell the entire story about how they hijacked the vast majority of funds that should have been ours.

Even after being a so-called successful litigant in this Agent Orange case, my V.A. records still indicate I suffer “no ill effect from herbicidal poisoning” and I have never been treated in the United States for any symptom of Agent Orange. It is only here that I find doctors willing to treat my condition. In fact one government doctor wrote on my chart that I inherited this condition from my mother, an individual he has never seen! And let us not forget the stand-by line the government has successfully utilized against me, other U.S. veterans, and Vietnamese victims: “there is no conclusive evidence linking your specific condition to herbicidal poisons.”

But when I correctly pointed out a previous edition of AGENT ORANGE REVIEW indicated radical changes in blood pressure from very low to extremely high was a symptom of adverse Agent Orange exposure, I was matter-of-factly informed, “it is, but not in your case.” So, no matter what the scientific evidence indicates as long as corporate America and their bought lackeys in the Congress control America, there will be no justice.

Perhaps the most immoral of articles the V.A. released was this one by former secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi who indicated “the faith and integrity” of the “compensation system” was “at risk” specifically due to the massive government pay outs for bogus Agent Orange claims. True to form an unnamed veteran was cited as receiving compensation for Agent Orange simply because he was “a few hours in Saigon” waiting on a plane change. Clearly this lie is a total fabrication but it is a tool to prejudice the mindset of the average American who chooses to be ignorant regarding these situations.

For decades I have been attempting to link the plight of the American veteran with that of the Vietnamese victim. Until most recently this has been most unpopular. I have been fired from jobs, harassed, accused of being a “Communist,” anti-American, and anti-Christian. Because my numerous articles in support of the Vietnamese victims enraged corporate America, in fear they may have to give up a dollar to help victims they created, some years ago our house was firebombed. No one was hurt, but it was a total loss.

jim rhodesThese are some of the obstacles we face. The challenge before us is difficult and challenging but I am confident we will prevail because we are right and no matter what anyone says we are indeed morally correct. As President John Kennedy said in the 1960s, regarding the inhumane treatment of the people of Berlin, “We are all Berliners.” Today, the world should say, “We are all Vietnamese.” There is no doubt in my mind that if Jesus Himself were in our presence, He would say: “I love Vietnam.”

James Rhodes

Published by the LA Progressive on August 17, 2011
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Comments

  1. Ljubinka Valesh says:

    We must not forget the spouses of the veterans, who we also exposed to the same contaminants at military Superfund sites! I’m stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer (inoperable, ovarian primary). I also have 2 myeloproliferative neoplasms (slow leukemias) that are finally service connected for veterans!
    Why are spouses still being ignored?! Navy Jag won’t hear my case as I wasn’t the employee of the federal. Gov’t!
    Children of veterans are also being heard/compensated! So, why are the spouses ignorned while dying from the same cancers and in the very same excruciating pain??
    This is so very wrong and needs to be addressed!!!! When will our Congressmen and Senators stand behing us, the spouses, who are dying after standing by our military spouses for years at these toxic military Superfund sites?
    I hope to be heard in my lifetime and hope it is soon as I’ve been referred for hospice care, by my Palliative care team!
    We do matter!

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