One of the lasting impacts from the Vietnam War is Agent Orange. It was sprayed on nearly 4 million people and is adversely impacting ordinary civilians. Inside Vietnam, the ecology and people are still wrestling with the lingering effects. The most notable include: physically, environmentally and social-politically. These factors influence numerous groups of people throughout the country. (Palmer, 2003)
The physical effects are impacting families who live in rural parts of Vietnam (such as: the Truong Son Mountains). According to Palmer (2013), it has been shown to contribute to birth defects, cancer, genetic and psychological challenges. Each one of them is adversely impacting the quality of life in many communities. These residents have genetic conditions related to Agent Orange. Yet, they do not have effective health care services to monitor what is happening. Over the course of time, this will eat away at the longevity and standard of living inside communities. These insights are showing the negative impacts of Agent Orange on those Vietnamese who live in these areas. (Palmer, 2005)
Environmentally, Agent Orange was first developed by the Monsanto and Dow Chemical in the 1940s. It is composed of an even mix of two substances which are poisonous to human beings and the ecology (i.e. Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and Tricholorophenoxyacetic acid). They are combined with diesel fuel or kerosene to create a toxic blend (i.e. TCDD). It was sprayed using large airplanes, by hand or through specially designed vehicles. These compounds would eat away at the foliage and prevent the enemy from using it as cover. According to Viet (2011), over 20 million tons were sprayed in rural parts of the country from 1961 to 1971. These practices were ended, when it was discovered it contributes to numerous health conditions. The most notable include: cancer, diabetes, genetic mutations, hepatitis C, Parkinson’s disease and birth defects. At the same time, it was determined that similar problems were emerging in fish and wildlife inside these areas. In many cases, they were eating plants and animals, which were exposed to high levels of Agent Orange in the jungle. This makes it difficult for the ecosystem to redevelop and it is harming the water table, food supply and air. These insights are showing how it is having an adverse effect on plants, animals and humans that live within these areas.
From a social – political standpoint, those who have exposure to Agent Orange want to hide these problems. The most obvious is with birth defects. In these cases, families will have several children who have genetic problems from repeated exposure. They will hide them to prevent others from passing judgment. This has a devastating impact on the parents psychologically and emotionally. Commenting about these issues are insights from Bouny (2007). He determined that the Vietnamese eagerly observe their ancestor’s customs, practices and traditions. They want offspring which are able to carry on these practices and their way of life. If this is not the case, they will have sense of guilt about not living up to these expectations. There are families who have one, two or three children suffering from serious handicaps. In many cases, they will conceive a fourth, a fifth and a sixth child to meet these standards. These children are hidden to avoid any kind of stigma from the lingering effects of Agent Orange.
At the same time, the parents’ are going through a form of mental torture, which see their children born with two heads or without arms or legs. When the TCDD dioxin does not succeed passing through the mother-to-be placenta and child was born healthy. The mother, who breastfeeds them, are poisonous to the baby. This is because the milk is a way of distributing these substances. Over the course of time, this can lead to issues such as depression from not having normal children because of overexposure. (Bouny, 2007) These insights are showing how Agent Orange victims will go through a certain amount of discrimination surrounding those children with a variety of health conditions. This causes them to become social outcasts and it creates a sense of depression from not having someone who is normal. Over the course of time, this causes many Vietnamese families to have secondary mental health issues associated with Agent Orange.