Archive for November, 2011

“The Leaves Keep Falling” Featured in Media That Matters Film Festival

 

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The “Leaves Keep Falling,” a short film by Vietnam Reporting Project fellows Ed Kashi and Catherine Karnow, has been selected as one of twelve short films featured in the Media That Matters Film Festival, a premier showcase for short films on the most important topics of the day, local and global. The film received the Human Rights Award at the festival.

“The Leaves Keep Falling” is an intimate portrait of two Vietnamese families whose children’s disabilities are believed to be associated with their parents’ exposure to Agent Orange. Watch below:

 

Charles Bailey Honored By Government of Vietnam

 

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Agent Orange super champion Charles Bailey has been awarded the highest honor given by the government of Vietnam to non-citizens, the Vietnam Order of Friendship medal.

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Charles with a young boy at Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City

The citation from the President of Vietnam reads: “(presented) to Dr. Charles R. Bailey, an American citizen, Director, Program on Agent Orange/Dioxin, Ford Foundation, who has made many contributions to cooperation in Vietnam’s education, training and humanitarian areas, contributing to strengthening the friendly cooperative relations between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and international organizations.”

Bailey has done more than perhaps any other individual to address the harmful legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Beginning in 1997, Bailey spent more than a decade in Hanoi as director of the Ford Foundation’s Vietnam office. During this time he learned a great deal about this issue and funded scientific research to determine the extent of the problem. In 2007 Bailey helped establish Ford’s Special Initiative on Agent Orange/dioxin, a philanthropic initiative to transform dioxin-contaminated “hotspots” into clean, safe environments and to serve families facing related health issues. In May 2011 Bailey joined the Aspen Institute as director of the Agent Orange in Vietnam Program.

 

In Honor of Those Who Served

 

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Happy Veterans Day! Hundreds of thousands of U.S. veterans know well the continuing impact of Agent Orange. They were exposed during their service in Vietnam and many of these brave men and women — and their families — continue to suffer from conditions associated with Agent Orange.  It’s tragic, but there is help.

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Image courtesy of Regan Fuller on Flickr.

Information
There are many places veterans can turn for information on Agent Orange. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has information on conditions presumed to be associated with exposure to Agent Orange, as well as general information on Agent Orange benefits and compensation online. Agent Orange Record has some good background information on the impact of Agent Orange on U.S. veterans, and Vietnam Veterans of America has put together an excellent resource for veterans seeking to understand their options for benefits and compensation.

Help
As many veterans will attest, knowing what benefits you might qualify for and actually receiving those benefits are two different things. Fortunately there are several veterans’ service organizations that can help. Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Disabled American Veterans all provide services free of charge to help veterans navigate the sometimes complicated process of applying for benefits and compensation for conditions associated with Agent Orange.

Support
Finally, there are many support groups and organizations veterans and their families can turn to, and there are a few communities specifically for those who are dealing with problems associated with Agent Orange. These include Agent Orange Legacy, Children of Vietnam Veterans, Daughters of Vietnam Veterans and Faces of Agent Orange.

The legacy of Agent Orange in both the United States and Vietnam is grim, but together we can make a difference. Thank you to all who served.

 

154 New Agent Orange Advocates Convene at U.C. Berkeley

 

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Conference attendees network over lunch outside the Clark Kerr Conference Center. (Image courtesy of Son Michael Pham.)

Thank you to everyone who came out for the Agent Orange and Addressing the Legacy of the War in Vietnam Conference at the University of California, Berkeley. It was a dynamic gathering of 154 Vietnamese-Americans, college students, Rotarians and advocates – all working together to brainstorm solutions to the long-term impact of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Participants learned about Agent Orange from a range of perspectives, including filmmakers, journalists, scientists, policy makers and NGO leaders. Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong explained how dioxin continues to impact the land and people of Vietnam. Japanese filmmaker Masako Sakata showed her moving documentary Agent Orange: A Personal Requiem and joined a discussion on social impact through film. There was even a panel featuring two U.C. Berkeley alumni from different generations who drew connections between the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 70s and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In her closing remarks, Susan Berresford, Convener of the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/dioxin said it was the largest conference on Agent Orange to date. Conference organizer Susan Lieu brought it home with an energizing chant: “Make,” the left side of the room shouted, “Agent Orange” came the center, “History!”