Declan told Matt he thought he hit the jackpot with the volumes of accumulated information on Agent Orange. He noted references to a predictable contaminating by-product, TCDD, a form of dioxin, created during the manufacturing process overseen by the imposing chemical companies Dow Chemical and Monsanto. This contaminant, TCDD, at only a few parts per trillion, caused cancer in laboratory animals; that is one drop in four million gallons of water. The intent of spraying Agent Orange to completely defoliate the Vietnam jungle resulted in improved visualization of the enemy and denying crops for enemy communist consumption. Every soldier in Vietnam suffered exposure to this poison. The liquid sprayed contained dioxin one million times the concentration that caused cancer in laboratory tests. Declan was astounded that Operation Ranch Hand disseminated 20,000,000 gallons of Agent Orange over South Vietnam. C-121 cargo planes and Hueys flew spraying missions. Grunts sprayed from handheld hoses on land and watercraft. At times, clouds of the stuff, dispersed from the aircraft and handheld apparatus, engulfed our military personnel.
“We’d heard a chopper overhead, looked up, and soon a cloud of slimy yellow-green rain completely covered us,” a wounded patient once told Declan.
A Vietnam veteran was quoted on local TV saying, “This stuff sucks!”
He read reports of various cancers and other unexpected illnesses in our Vietnam veterans and congenital disabilities in their children. Dioxin was certainly a diabolically dangerous chemical. Most meaningful to Declan, he had uncovered information detailing the development of malignant white blood cell diseases that afflicted Vietnam veterans and others exposed to this toxic chemical. He had also uncovered the fact that the Veterans Administration shamefully denied the apparent causative relationship of Agent Orange’s poison, dioxin, and the development of blood cancers. Most onerously, the VA orchestrated a cover-up and denial of disability compensation to Vietnam veterans suffering and dying from these blood cancers. They did so by front-loading the numbers to be statistically analyzed to include soldiers and Marines that had never served in Vietnam and not exposed to Agent Orange. In doing so, the calculated risk of becoming ill when serving in Vietnam would diminish.
Suffused with excitement, Declan said, “If dioxin was capable of inducing malignant changes in white cells, it surely could be the culprit in the findings of the peculiarly enlarged macrophages bulging with engorged vesicles.”
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