This was originally a response to:
FILNER'S "AGENT ORANGE EQUITY ACT" WOEFULLY INADEQUATE
I am not a veteran or even an American. My father was stationed at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick, from 1958 until 1964. While we lived there the Canadian military, with assistance from the USA's Fort Detrick, sprayed the training area massively with Agent Orange, Agent Purple and, beginning in 1965 after we had left, Agent White. You will note that the years of spraying match up with Vietnam; what was first sprayed on Gagetown next befell Vietnam. That's because Canada agreed to allow the field testing of these herbicides by the US military on our soil. Canada also manufactured Agent Orange and sold it to the USA for use on Vietnam. All this has been our little secret until the news got out in 2005.
20,000 soldiers from the UK trained at Gagetown, as well as about 400,000 Canadians. These numbers don't include the civilians who lived on the base, like me, or the thousands of civilians who lived in the surrounding area. Also, I don't know the number of American reservists from Maine who trained annually in Gagetown.
Should Filner include these soldiers and their families in his bill too? The UK and Canada are allies of the USA, as were many Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. I don't hear anybody talking about the Korean soldiers along the DMZ. Only soldiers of the United States of America. How about the Australian Vietnam vets? And finally, what about the elephant in the room, the Vietnamese civilians?
I was sprayed with Agent Orange beginning at age one and I'm 50 now. Nobody knows how long I'll remain alive, but I'm asking you to join with all the other victims in tackling the fundamental issue here: the USA must clean up this worldwide mess and stop making more! There are over two million American Vietnam vets, about four million Vietnamese and about a million Canadians affected. Add in all the other countries involved and we're talking about eight million total victims of Agent Orange.
I say stop criticizing Filner's Bill because it's a fresh start. But we must lobby our respective goverments to at last publicly admit what they've done and make them supply adequate medical care for ALL the victims and detoxify the areas they sprayed.
Kelly Porter Franklin
Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada