Vietnam Veterans of America will answer questions and discuss new laws and benefits for veterans exposed to Agent Orange tonight during a Knoxville town hall meeting. Agent Orange is a chemical defoliant best known for its use during the Vietnam War. Barry Rice, President of the Tennessee State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, says doctors are still finding diseases related to Agent Orange exposure.
“The real problem is that we are starting to notice some effects and some illnesses in our children and in our grandchildren,” he says.
Rice says there are still many people who don’t realize they’re experiencing health problems related to exposure.
"Even though the Vietnam Veterans population is aging, some of these symptoms from our exposure to Agent Orange maybe didn’t appear for years and years,” he says.
Rice says tonight’s meeting will address some of those effects; he adds that veterans service officers will be available for questions about the chemical and potential claims.
This is the first Agent Orange meeting in a statewide series; Rice says given that there are approximately 25,000 Vietnam veterans in Knox and surrounding counties, he hopes to reach out to as many veterans and families in this area as possible. Rice says veterans' surviving family members are also welcome to attend, especially surviving spouses who may quality for VA benefits under new policies.
The Knoxville Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America will host the meeting today, Tuesday, July 23, from 6 - 9 p.m. at the Community Action Center on Western Avenue.