The Vietnam War Ended April 30, 1975

The Vietnam War Ended April 30, 1975
We’re Still Paying – Author’s Opinion
  By Sheri de Grom

The Vietnam War ended April 30, 1975, yet the generation that sacrificed the most lives in this conflict continues to pay. Our government has agreed to spend $43 million cleaning up the environment where our husbands, brothers, sons, fathers, uncles, and friends laid down their lives. We’ve given enough to this foreign land where we didn’t want to go in the first place. But we did the honorable thing and went when our country called us.

Now, we are giving more. Our government has agreed to spend an additional $43 million by way of a new appropriation for the specific clean up of Agent Orange in Vietnam, the very place still stained with American blood. We’ve also promised the project will be completed within four years. We don’t make these promises in cleaning up our own environmental issues.

Over the past five years, Congress has appropriated about $49 million for environmental remediation and about $11 million to help people living with disabilities in Vietnam—regardless of the cause. The disabilities do not require proof of causal effect from the war.

The United States Social Security Disability Administration isn’t nearly as generous and the backlog of the Veterans Affairs adjudicating disability claims would be a laughing matter. That is, if the ramifications weren’t destroying our veterans’ lives as the years and the decades drag on while they are waiting to learn their fate.

For many years, doctors of both the Veterans Affairs hospitals and publicly-owned laboratories denied any possible illnesses associated with Agent Orange. Our veterans suffered needlessly for years without relief or compensation.

It’s now been proven that exposure to Agent Orange causes many medical issues. Some of the most common are: cancer(s), birth defects, infertility, diabetes, and numerous gastro-related issues.

It’s an ugly fact when I compare the price we the citizens of theUnited States of America paid for the Vietnam War while it was occurring. Don’t ask me to consider and even promise an environmental clean-up within four years. That makes me angry.

It’s been eighteen-years since Fort Ord, California, closed and it’s still not environmentally restored. Hazardous materials and unexploded ordinances continue to be a fact of life.

The United States has over eight-hundred of its own closed military installations to clear of environmental hazards. Most of the installations have been closed in excess of ten years.

It’s argued that we must help Vietnam because they have become an important trading partner. Military ties have also strengthened and theSouth China Sea is rich in oil and gas reserves.

I believe environmental clean-up is an absolute necessity. Additionally, I believe we must take care of our own land, air, and waterways before we spend resources we borrow from China to clean up foreign soil.

I strive for a clean environment and I believe strongly that our sites must be preserved at home before we commit monies we don’t have to cleaning up the shores of foreign lands.

How about you, where do you want to see the money we don’t have in our United States budget be appropriated?

About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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12 Responses to The Vietnam War Ended April 30, 1975

  1. jbw0123 says:

    Ah the bitter rain keeps on falling. No comfort at all that 2 4-D, one of the major ingredients in Agent Orange is now sprayed liberally here, especially in areas that grow crops genetically modified to be resistant to it.

    We sure the heck better get our $43 million worth of trade. Makes me wonder just how awful we really left things in Vietnam. Also makes me wonder how many decades we’ll be paying, monetarily and psychologically, for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    • Julia – Once we develop a chemical that will kill – we simply can’t seem to leave it alone. My opinion is that we didn’t have to go back to Vietnam and pay $43 million and the cost continues to mount. Yes, the destruction is beyond belief – but walk through any VA hospital or talk with any veteran on the street that served during the Vietnam Conflict and we are more than paying for wounds here in the United States.

      Without a doubt, we’ll pay for decades for Iraq and Afghanistan. They are the ultimate when it comes to paying it forward. But, you know and I know, we’ve payed forward, sideways, and every other way — and we’ll continue to pay long after you and I have both departed this earth.

  2. Betty Bolte says:

    I was unaware of this situation, but so agree with you. There are many hazardous sites that need attention and cleaning up right here in the States. I recycle everything I can but still feel like there should be a way to not have so much packaging. Then add the fact that plastic has harmful chemicals that are messing with our bodies, and I grow furious. What are we doing to ourselves? Thanks for raising this issue!

    • I have to tag on to another in order to comment. Bless WP and their inefficiency.

      I was gone all day and half the night, but since I knew this was coming today, I had a terrible dread, a sense of anger many people would not understand. I have ranted about the issues of Vietnam for decades. I can see the look on my friend’s faces … Oh, she’s not talking about that again.

      Yes, that again. Of course, why not protect our trading interest with the same country we bombed … like rebuilding half of Europe and Japan. We turned our backs on returning Vietnam vets, calling them baby-killers … kids so young they still had peach fuzz on their pink faces, kids who died before they knew love or had the chance to have a family, men and women who served who we still don’t take care of. We had to have a military presence in South East Asia, it was business. Now we have to protect our trading policies in Asia, while people here are losing their homes.

      Those who live with the fall-out of the military in so many ways are not as important as our trading interest … the kids who can’t find jobs because we’ve outsourced over 70% of all manufacturing to Asia and India, are also not as important.

      We also spend money to promote tourish in Vietnam to bolster their economy, while people here are losing their homes. Damn it all … I get so angry. I wasn’t looking forward to this post, but I am grateful to you, Sheri … that you still care and continue to bring these issues to light. Thanks for trying to educate and shine the light on so many issues for our military … for all of us 🙂

      • Thanks, Florence. I knew you would understand how I felt. My rage, my continuing frustration with my own government for continuing to turn its back on us–the generation that gave everything and we’re still giving. As far as I’m concerned, they can make a parking lot out of Vietnam. I’m certain others would stone me for that attitude but it really is how I feel. Our Vietnam vets are now being set aside by our VA hospitals to make way for the returning veterans of our current wars. At least now we are actually calling them wars and not conflicts.

    • Betty – Thanks for taking note of this painful issue. I appreciate your dropping by.

  3. I never knew any of these facts, Sheri, and indeed I am appalled. And it’s all about trade and the dollar. We have so much to clean up right here and when will it happen? Surely not as quickly as we’re doing it in another country. That’s so sad. And maddening.

    • I’m furious Patti. We’re giving this money to Vietnam–and we have to borrow it from China! Further, our own veterans with Agent Orange complications have died before their claims were acknowledged, let alone ajudicated. Yes, we dropped Agent Orange on the jungles of Vietnam but it was in a coordinated effort. Claims to Vietnam were paid before many of our Veterans received a dime. The blood of those I love is on the fields of Vietnam and they came home in flag drapped coffins. Am I eager to to clean-up Vietnam before we clean up our own environment – the answer can be summed up with one word – NO. Thank for stopping in.

  4. Reblogged this on lakefrontmuse and commented:
    Couldn’t say it better!

  5. It’s a sad fact that if we were better at maintaining a clean environment, we wouldn’t have to spend so much money going back to clean it up. I’m a Canadian, so I can’t really comment on U.S. fiscal policy, let alone foreign policy. But, I can say that when I consider the number of bombs, mortar shells and land mines being expended daily around the world, adding to that the tons of trash being created daily from over-packaging, single-use products and throw away everything and I worry for my grandson’s future. What kind of world will he inherit? Thank you, Sheri. You always keep us sharp and thinking.

    • Thanks for stopping by Mary. In researching the fiscal dollars spent by the US Government as money going to foreign soils where we’ve fought wars — this is the one that turned me inside out. It strikes a raw nerve everytime I think about it. I had to struggle every time I wanted to write more. And, like you, I worry about our environment and what we are doing to it every day. Just Friday, the US Today’s lead story was about the high price of water. I believe eventually clean water will cost more than food.

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