House unanimously adopts Matzie resolution designating October 2019 as ‘Agent Orange Awareness Month’

HARRISBURG, Oct. 23 – The House of Representatives today unanimously adopted H.R. 522, designating October 2019 as “Agent Orange Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania, according to the resolution’s sponsor, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny.

Matzie said the resolution is intended to raise awareness about a secondary danger U.S. combat troops confronted during the Vietnam War – a deadly chemical threat from the herbicide Agent Orange that caused grievous health consequences.

“As we recognize the bravery and sacrifice of thousands of Pennsylvanians killed or injured during the Vietnam War, it’s important that we also remember those troops who died or suffered devastating health consequences after exposure to an invisible but deadly danger – Agent Orange,” Matzie said.  

“About 19 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides were used during the war. These silent, chemical killers claimed the lives of thousands of Pennsylvanians, and many more continue to live with major health effects, including various cancers.

“It bears mentioning that the element of cause here is not speculative – the federal government has acknowledged that certain diseases are conclusively linked to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the war, and federal law even provides for a presumption that certain diseases are directly caused by exposure to these chemicals.”

Agent Orange – named for the orange stripes on the drums in which the chemical was stored – was used to clear foliage that provided enemy cover as the South Vietnamese military and its primary ally – the United States –battled the communist forces of North Vietnam and a South Vietnamese guerilla force, the Viet Cong.

Matzie noted that the estimated 172,000 Pennsylvanians who directly participated in the war showed heroic courage and determination under some of the most difficult circumstances ever encountered in U.S. military history.