Archive for November, 2010

California Report Investigates the Legacy of Agent Orange


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Workers at CDM International test soil at Da Nang hotspot to determine concentration of dioxin. (Photo: K. Oanh Ha)

In a three part investigation of the continuing legacy of Agent Orange, KQED radio program The California Report takes on the continuing impact of Agent Orange from the perspective the South Vietnamese soldiers who fought alongside the United States during the war.

In part 1 of the series, The Forgotten Ones: A Legacy of Agent Orange, a former South Vietnamese soldier Luc Nguyen and his American commander Louis Wagner share their experience dealing with Agent Orange. Both men have suffered from prostate cancer – a condition which is recognized by the U.S. Veterans Administration as Agent Orange-related.

Part 2 gives the listener three unique perspectives: Bui Tuy Son (a South Vietnamese soldier who has lung cancer but does not smoke), Le Ke Son (who oversees the governments Agent Orange program) and  the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak.

Part 3 takes a look at the dioxin hotspots that scar the land in southern Vietnam and continue to cause health problems in those who live nearby.

All three episodes are also available on the Make Agent Orange History Multimedia page.


Giving Thanks




Thanksgiving is a time to step back from ourselves – from our problems and our desires – to focus on the things we sometimes take for granted like family and a roof over our heads. That, and it’s a time for some good eating!

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Hanoi this past spring.

Make Agent Orange History is thankful for recent progress like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement that the United States will invest 34 million dollars to clean up the dioxin hotspot at the former DaNang airbase.

We are thankful to both Vietnamese and American survivors of Agent Orange, who continue to inspire us with their resilience and can-do spirit. We are also thankful to our nonprofit partners hard at work providing relief and humanitarian aid in Vietnam.

But most of all, we are thankful to you. Because you keep this issue alive by spreading the word and taking part in the solutions. Without you, the continuing impact of Agent Orange would be another forgotten global injustice, a humanitarian struggle where consequential action loses out to expedience.

Whether it be family, friends or the simple grace of having food on the table, everyone – even the sickest child in Vietnam – has something to be thankful for. Leave a comment and tell us, what are you thankful for?


Students Participate in Innovative Mock-Dialogue




Citizen-to-citizen dialogue is an increasingly essential component of international diplomacy. Only by understanding our differences and embracing our role as global citizens will we be able to solve our most intractable global challenges, including the continuing impact of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

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Students at the Matsunaga Institute of the University of Hawaii at Manoa simulate first meeting of US-Vietnam Dialogue Group.

It was a typically warm and sunny day in Honolulu late last October that students and faculty at the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution learned firsthand how citizen-to-citizen dialogue works.

They participated in an innovative mock-dialogue simulating the first-ever meeting of the US-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange. The session was facilitated by Charles Bailey of the Ford Foundation Special Initiative on Agent Orange/dioxin.

Following an introduction from Mr. Bailey and event organizer Anne Marie Smoke, participants were assigned to represent members of the US-Vietnam Dialogue Group. After warming up to the process, each ‘member’ shared their role in the group and in the community, why they were chosen to participate and what they could bring to the table.

All aspects of that first meeting were simulated and students walked away with a true understanding of citizen-to-citizen dialogue and why it not only matters, but is essential to progress on addressing the toxic legacy of Agent Orange.

In the words of Cindy Iodide, a graduate student at the Matsunaga Institute:

“This morning’s US-Vietnam Dialogue Group Simulation was a tremendous experience. I felt disappointment that our time together had come to an end….was two and half hours too long? Truthfully I would have stayed for six. The experience was tremendous.”

For more information about this event or to download resource materials to host your own mock-dialogue, visit the Matsunaga Institute’s website.


Launching Make Agent Orange History!


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For over a year, Active Voice has been working in collaboration with our long-term partners at the Aspen Institute, War Legacies Project, Communications Consortium Media Center, Vietnam Reporting Project and VIET2010 to raise awareness of the continuing impact of Agent Orange in Vietnam. While its effects are widespread, it is a humanitarian concern we can do something about.

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Active Voice Special Initiatives Manager Phuong Quach plays with children affected by exposure to Agent Orange at the Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.

During the war in Vietnam, millions of Vietnamese and hundreds of thousands of Americans were exposed to Agent Orange/dioxin – and the effects are being felt to this day. In Vietnam, the situation is particularly pronounced, as dioxin is still found in high concentrations in over 25 “hotspots” throughout southern Vietnam.

But there’s hope. There are many who are working to address this problem in different ways – from providing health services, to conducting research, to undergoing environmental cleanup. Make Agent Orange History is devoted to showcasing these efforts and inspiring action to reduce the public health impact of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

The website offers profiles of Agent Orange champions, features the latest news, and provides actions for everyday people to get involved in the movement to support cleanup and rehabilitation in Vietnam. We encourage everyone to show they care by pledging support for the US-Vietnam Dialogue Group’s Plan of Action, which outlines a clear plan for addressing this humanitarian concern.

By pledging your support and spreading the word, we will all be one step closer to making Agent Orange history.