Since the Viet Nam War ended many people, both Americans and Vietnamese alike, have been affected from their exposure to Agent Orange. However, up until 1984 no one got compensation or acknowledgement for their illnesses. As it stands today, only the US veterans have received any recognition in regard to what they have suffered and the Vietnamese have gotten no acknowledgement for any damage done by the government and chemical companies.
After a long struggle that took the veterans through several different sets of lawyers and courts they finally, in 1984, got an out of court settlement with the chemical companies for $180 million. This settlement, however, turned out to be a small victory as the money soon ran out and very few veterans were actually helped. The settlement money could only go towards those veterans who developed an illness before December 31, 1994 and once the money was gone, even if an illness was developed before that time, no aid could be given.
Through later efforts in court it was finally ruled that those veterans with health problems relating to Agent Orange that had been discovered after 1994 were not properly represented in the previous lawsuit. Since then Viet Nam veterans in the United States have been eligible to receive medical treatment and compensation through the VA in part due to the Veteransí Dioxin and Radiation Exposure Compensation Standards Act passed by congress in 1984.
It is now time for the Vietnamese to get compensation and acknowledgement for what they have suffered. In 2004 the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange filed suit in US Federal Court against the chemical companies who are responsible manufacturing the dangerous herbicides. Their case was heard by Judge Jack Weinstein, the same judge who oversaw the veteranís settlement, and was dismissed in March of 2005 on the grounds that the use of herbicides was not at the time of use a violation of international law.
As they Vietnamese prepare for an appeal, it is clear that they are looking for and deserve the
same acknowledgement and justice as the US veterans. For more information
on this ongoing court case visit the Fund for Reconciliation and Development