Agent Orange Association of Canada supports US action, demands end to impunity. Part II in a series; for Part I, visit here
(Mike Staples, Daily Gleaner NB) – THE co-president of the Agent Orange Association of Canada Inc. is applauding an announcement last week by the State of Maine to have the U.S. federal government recognize environment hazards associated with military training at Gagetown.
Carol Brown Parker said it’s encouraging to see Maine Gov. Paul LePage involved.
“To see this official action at this level of authority in the U.S. can be likened in Canada to the premier of New Brunswick, David Alward, going to Ottawa to get help and assistance from our federal government through the National Defence and Veterans Affairs departments,” Brown Parker said.
Last week, LePage signed a resolve requesting recognition of environmental hazards and the resulting health risks and disabilities suffered by certain members of the Maine National guard while training at Gagetown.
In a news release, the Maine government said the U.S. Department of Defence, along with Veterans and Emergency Management, has been pursuing the recognition of the environmental hazards that Maine’s service men and women may have been exposed to at Base Gagetown with the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2005.
“This resolve will support federal legislation that has been submitted in the House and Senate by Maine’s Congressional Delegation,” the release said.
“For decades members of the Maine National Guard trained at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick. In 2007, the Canadian government admitted to working with the United States military in testing the herbicides Agent Orange, Agent Purple, Agent White and other unregistered pesticides at locations around the base in the late 1960s and began paying one-time settlements to its own veterans who served on the base.”
In 1966-67, defoliants, including Agent Orange, Agent Purple and Agent White, were tested at Gagetown. The sites were located in a remote, 33-hectare forest containing both deciduous and conifer trees, the report stated.
The base and the U.S. Department of the Army conducted the tests to determine how best to remove vegetation in training areas.
The news release said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has not recognized any correlation between the symptoms experienced by Maine National Guard soldiers and their exposure to harmful chemicals used at the training base.
But, LePage said, Maine’s military members have sacrificed so much in service to both the State and nation.
“It is our duty as a country to take care of these brave men and women when they return sick or injured and I urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to act swiftly on righting this wrong,” LePage said.
Brown Parker said the Maine National Guard initiative is asking for ongoing health care and compensation for those exposed to the toxic chemicals and not a small one time payout.
In 2007, the federal Tory government announced an Agent Orange compensation package for veterans and civilians affected by the spraying of the lethal herbicide at Base Gagetown during the 1960s. Those who qualified received a $20,000 ex gratia payment.
Brown Parker said the Agent Orange Association of Canada Inc. has obtained two different DND documents that show evidence of other spray periods of Agent Orange and/or 27 other dioxins sprayed at the CFB Gagetown excluding 1966 and 1967. These documents indicate active spray programs from 1956 to 1984.
“Our people who worked and lived near CFB Gagetown from 1956 to 1984 and who were exposed to these toxic herbicides are deserving of better health benefits, compensation for their illnesses and suffering at the hands of our governments,” Brown Parker said.
“Hopefully, it will not take another country to show Canada the appropriate way.”
Aside from U.S. and Canadian soldiers who served at Gagetown, Brown Parker said people should also not forget the 16,000 British soldiers who trained every summer too.
“Where and what is the government of Britain doing to help their soldiers? ‘Nothing’ is the reply from British soldiers who have contacted our association.”
Brown Parker is encouraging concerned citizens to write their local MLA, as well as get the premier, their MPs and the prime minister involved.
“This is exactly what our neighbours in Maine are doing.”
Co-President Agent Orange Association of Canada Inc.
Head Office Westfield, N.B.