Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Tough Week: the Phillipines, Indonesia, American Samoa, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and of course, Vietnam...

Typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, forgotten victims, and possible link to the spread of Agent Orange
Chuck Palazzo
Interim Editor for Agent Orange, VVAW

One thing amazes me during and after a natural disaster occurs – including those that have occurred in our own United States – has it ever occurred to anyone, or is it just me? Those that are mostly affected are those that need these disasters the least. Not to minimize anyone on our planet, their resources, the destruction and devastation that they have experienced, but why is it that the poor, those that have been through so much, those who have to beg for a few Dong just to eat seem to be the most gravely affected? It’s been an impossible week for so many people, so many countries. Is it our global climate change? Who knows and I doubt we will ever know. My heart goes out to ALL who have been affected. Living in Vietnam however, and in Da Nang especially, I feel a sense of brother and sisterhood – those who were once our enemies, all joined together this week as one nation, as one people – human beings helping human beings.

My neighbor’s here in Da Nang, Son Tra Province to be specific, which is a stone’s throw from the ocean, all came knocking on my door. The Vietnamese families that have “adopted” me, dropped what they were doing, stopped boarding up their own homes, just to make sure I was OK and offered their help. With my very limited Vietnamese, and their very limited English, we communicated in our own form of sign language, and ensured we would and always will, count on each other – in good times and bad. And my friends, this week was BAD and we all kept our words – we helped each other, placed others before ourselves – especially the children.

My friend, colleague, mentor and of course, fellow Marine, Willie H. and I recollected the Monsoon season here during the war – neither of us could remember it ever being this bad.

Café in the Morning

For those of you who don’t know, Da Nang is located on the coast of central Vietnam. (Please see the link to a map below). During the war years, it was attacked by both VC as well as NVA. Hue City is very close by. There are many Vietnamese who live here and in the general area who fought for the south and some who fought for the North. I happen to have coffee each morning (by the way, if you haven’t tried it, you must! Vietnamese coffee is some of the finest in the world) with a Vietnamese man who has become my friend. About my age and fit as can be – he finally told me he was a former VC and not proud of it. Many Vietnamese are not proud of their affiliations from the past – but the past is the past. Guess who was the first to knock on my door the day after the storm? My new VC friend. He calls me “bạn chiến đấu” which means “brother in arms”.


Why the lack of coverage about the Vietnam Disaster?

I have my own theory, and in my opinion, as we have publically come out to say time and time again, the war is behind us, the major difference is this - the Vietnamese really mean it when they say it. I also believe that there is indeed a link to Agent Orange and the potential spread of Dioxin via floods like what was just experienced. Some of you have read the question I posed to many experts in the field, and I am still sifting through all of this very valuable information. Thank you so much for all of you who contributed. Could it be, in some bizarre fashion, that by offering more aid to Vietnam, especially with flooding and the potential of spreading the poison Dioxin, we are indeed admitting guilt to war crimes? We all know that the chemical companies that created this nightmare are guilty of creating an uncontrollable negative future. We also now have proof that the US knew all along that this was a poison that would cause extremely serious consequences if used – beyond just being, excuse the pun, your garden variety weed killer.

I read and I write – especially about the war that I was part of, and the negative consequences it has brought on to so many of us. I see widespread press coverage by other countries as a result of this disaster – especially coming from the US. But I see little, if any, regarding the number of people killed, the homelessness, the destruction that has been created and the potential worsening of the dioxin problem here in Vietnam. (Kudos to the Wall Street Journal – they appear to be the only exception). Isn’t it ironic that I rely on finding this info from other countries but not the US? We are not putting our wealth nor are we offering assistance, to the country of Vietnam. Could this all be related? I believe in my heart of hearts, that it is.

Once again, I don’t dare minimize what these other countries have been through this week – but where is the coverage we owe to Vietnam, and the aid that is rightfully theirs from a global, if not THE Global Leader – the US? Our Secretary of State pledged $100,000! No typo folks. I am embarrassed to even state that number.

Audacity and Arrogance Defined

As I sift through all of this information, I find this story from a Canadian publication:


In brief, “Efforts to clean up contamination from the wartime herbicide Agent Orange in Vietnam took a step forward Thursday when the United States awarded a contract to prepare for dioxin containment.

The US said the 1.69-million-dollar project will involve building a secure landfill site to hold contaminated soil and sediment at Danang airport.

Full-scale decontamination could take years”.

Give me a break! It will cost billions to clean up Vietnam and give the medical attention to those of us who served here, the Vietnamese, our allies and the offspring that continue to be born with afflictions that can only be caused by such an insidious poison – dioxin.

I have to thank my good friend and colleague, Rena K. for pointing this out : if we use the number 3 million victims and this $1.69million in money just released by the US, that equates to $.56 (fifty-six cents) per victim PRIOR to administrative costs. As she puts it, this is worse than shameful, much worse – it’s an insult!

Timed perfectly by the Canadian Press – but I have yet to find any retort, any argument in favor of what the US continues to do – which in my opinion is nothing.

Links to Related Stories

Please friends, take some time and check out these links. I invite any and all comments, for and against what I am stating here. But please, show compassion to all, not just a select few.







This one has to be a mis-print. But please read what our secretary of state had to say:

On Friday, the United States said it would provide 100,000 dollars worth of assistance to help victims of the typhoon after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her country stands ready "to assist the people of Vietnam as they recover from this tragedy".

Came from this publication:


The stories go on and on, the tragedy and deaths continue, and the suffering just seems to be non-stop. And “poor us” in the US, we complain about the price of a Big Mac increasing.


Lingering '70s Spittin' Image & VA Politics contribute to 2009 PTSD and New GI Bill SNAFU

Sheddin' The Light of Truth: What was true then, is still true, today...
Chuck "Mutt" Winant
La Mesa, Ca

Among the many half baked lies about America's war against Viet Nam is the "they spit on us" myth that has served so well to deter many from any actual examination of the War. In the article "Viet Nam Veterans Now Get Warm Welcome", Aug 17, I'm now told I had bottles and eggs thrown at me...


Never happened...

You know, after seeing what my country was up to in Viet Nam, the LAST thing I cared about was getting a parade. I'm hardly alone in this.

Oh, we were "spit on", all right - by the Veterans hospitals, foul dungeons where many died from medical neglect, by a VA which stonewalled any investigations into Agent Orange, and had but one bed, nationally, for heroin addiction.

We were spit on by a series of thuggish Saigon regimes, the last of which- Thieu/Ky, got rich off of, traffiking in that heroin.

We were spit on by our own Services, when returning vets, denied health care or drug treatment, were given bad paper discharges for speaking out - just like todays returning vets! There was no "diagnosis" of PTSD, back in the day, so not even any counseling, one on one or in a group setting, was available to us.

That is, until Viet Nam Veterans Against The War documented a common problem amongst returning Veterans that they called Post Vietnam Syndrome, later (1983) to become clinically recognized as an anxiety disorder called PTSD, with the publication of the DSM-III. With this development, the Swift Boat types created the media spin that we were cry babies, rather than veterans that were psychologically damaged by their harrowing experiences in an illegal war.

Who could forget the hosing we got from the VFW and Legion, who used their political weight to limit the new crop of veterans from getting the benefits they themselves enjoyed - shades of John McCain - voting down every VA bill that expanded veterans right and benefits for Veitnam Veterans. When anti War Viet vets joined VFW and American Legion posts, those posts were dropped from the rolls.

Then we were spit on by the political generals of the Pentagon, Hackworths' "Perfumed Princes" - who put thier careers ahead of what was good for the country as well as the troops. And we were spit on by pro war flag waving nonothings, who reacted in rage and sometimes violence against Viet Nam vets who dared speak the obvious about that uspeakable war.

People who opposed that war stood behind us, and with us. They were on OUR side. Anti War vets, like Viet Nam Veterans Against the War fought all those forces to bring to light the realities of Agent Orange, and what they called PVS, going so far as to seize unused wings of VA hospitals, setting up our own PVS treatment centers, and forcing the military to upgrade thousands of bad discharges.

A parade? You want to buy me with a fucking PARADE? - tell you what; You want to honor my voluntary tour in Viet Nam, derail these latest public wars for private profit, devote however many billions it will take to do right by our wounded, and the damage we inflicted, and have those responsible for these disasters bought to justice.

Related Links
GORDON MARSHALL. "DSM-III." A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. 6 Oct. 2009