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Greens back Vietnam vets in call for Govt apology

Greens back Vietnam vets in call for Govt apology

The Greens are strongly supporting Kiwi veterans of the Vietnam War in their call for the Government to offer a formal and unreserved apology for its inadequate recognition of their exposure to Agent Orange.

“For too long, the New Zealand Government has failed to apologise meaningfully to Vietnam vets for the grievous harm caused them by exposure to Agent Orange,” Green Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said. “An unqualified apology is long overdue.”

“While an apology alone can’t rectify the damage done, it is clearly an important step towards closure for these veterans. However, in order for an apology to be genuine and meaningful, it must be accompanied by action.”

A group of 740 Vietnam vets and families have today sent an open letter to the Prime Minister asking her to offer a formal and unreserved apology for the New Zealand Government’s involvement in the Agent Orange exposure, and to take meaningful action in line with such an apology.

Ms Kedgley said the Greens supported the veterans’ request for assistance from the Government in a number of areas, including medical support.

“This medical support would need to include free annual medical checks, and an enhanced level of medical support for their children and grandchildren, many of whom are suffering from conditions known to be associated with exposure to Agent Orange. This is the basic minimum that veterans should receive. After all, it was a previous government which sent our veterans to Vietnam and allowed them to be exposed to this toxic weapon.

“Based on my experience last month observing Vietnamese children who suffer from a huge range of conditions as a result of their parents’ exposure to Agent Orange, I am sure there are many more diseases than are presently recognised that are caused by parental exposure to Agent Orange. That’s why we strongly support medical support for affected children.”

Ms Kedgley said the Government needed to acknowledge that our understanding of the effects of Agent Orange were still limited.

“We are only beginning to grasp the long-term damage Agent Orange does to human health. In Vietnam, they are finding second- and even third-generations of children whose lives are blighted as a result of their grandparents’ exposure to Agent Orange.”

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