We're still reminded to never forget those missing in action or any prisoners of war from the Vietnam conflict, but there's one other issue that still stands out.
Senator Richard Marcellais has been wearing orange to bring awareness to the need for more funding for Vietnam veterans exposed to agent orange during the war. He says there are approximately 15,000 veterans of that war in North Dakota, including himself, who served there from 1968 to 1969.
The number of Vietnam veterans affected by the chemical Agent Orange is astonishing. Roughly 300-thousand veterans have died from Agent Orange exposure -- that's almost five times as many as the 58-thousand who died in combat.
“Did it save lives? No doubt. Over there it did, but nobody knew it was going to be taking them later,” said Dan Stenvold, President of the North Dakota branch of the VVA.
The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) define Agent Orange as a highly toxic herbicide used by the U.S. military to kill vegetation during the Vietnam War.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Bailey never fought in Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia, where many U.S. troops were exposed to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.
But last July, Bailey, then 67, won a hard-fought and groundbreaking battle when the Veterans Affairs Department finally approved his claim that Agent Orange caused his prostate cancer and metastatic pelvic cancer.
A new study found that airmen who flew and maintained the C-123 Provider long after the planes were used to spray Agent Orange over Vietnam were exposed to dangerous levels of the dioxin that remained in the aircraft.
A report in Scientific Research titled "Post-Vietnam Military Herbicide Exposures in UC-123 Agent Orange Spray Aircraft" found that environmental testing of the planes revealed traces of dioxin levels above the Defense Department's own standards for maximum permissible exposure to poisonous chemicals.
VA has updated the list of ships that operated in Vietnam, adding more and expanding information for others. The list can help Vietnam-era Veterans find out if they qualify for presumption of Agent Orange exposure when seeking disability compensation for related diseases.