Throughout the Vietnam War, the United States sprayed herbicides including Agent Orange on millions of acres of land in Vietnam in an attempt to combat guerrilla war tactics. Specifically, the application of Agent Orange served to destroy surrounding crops in order to interrupt the enemy’s food supply, and also destroy the foliage in the jungles to prevent ambush attacks. Agent Orange was a mixture of two different kinds of highly toxic chemicals. Today, we are aware of the significant health risks related to herbicide exposure. Furthermore, countless veterans receive service-connected compensation for diseases that are directly linked to Agent Orange exposure. While Agent Orange is most publicly associated with Vietnam, it was also stored and tested in other locations as well, including the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Agent Orange in Hawaii
Hawaii was one of the main sites for the storage and testing of Agent Orange throughout the 1960s. In December of 1966, Fort Detrick personnel conducted field tests of Agent Orange in Hilo, HI in order to evaluate variables such as rates, volume of application, season, and vegetation. An aerial application of the herbicide was completed and data was recorded. Around this same time, another testing project was administered in the State Forest area of Mauna Loa, HI. The purpose of this project was to evaluate the herbicide Tordon in mixtures with Agent Orange, to determine if it would be a successful defoliant agent. Following this, Agent Orange was again tested from 1967 to 1968 in Kauai, HI. Here, a short-term evaluation was orchestrated by personnel from Fort Detrick’s Plant Science Lab in coordination with contract research completed by the United States Department of Agriculture and University of Hawaii sites. Overall, this research involved field tests of different mixtures and formulations of the herbicides produced by chemical industries. When evaluating the effectiveness of herbicide mixtures, Agent Orange was used as the standard.
Agent Orange in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico was also home to the storage and testing of Agent Orange from 1956 to 1957, and then again from 1966 to 1968. This occurred in many locations spanning Puerto Rico including: Mayaguez, Guanica, Joyuda, Loquillo, Las Marias, and near the Rio Grande. Specifically, in 1956, numerous herbicide chemicals were evaluated on tropical woods in Mayaguez and Guanica, PR. The chemicals were applied in highly concentrated solutions using a micro-sprayer. This testing was repeated again in 1957 to determine the effectiveness of such herbicides as defoliants and killing agents. After a brief hiatus, testing resumed in 1966 with the aerial application of Agent Orange taking place in Loquillo and Las Marias, PR. Subsequently in 1967 the Dow Chemical Company, a manufacturer of Agent Orange, was awarded a Department of Defense research contract. The objective of this research was to prepare mixtures of various herbicides in the form of pellets, and to test them on variations types of vegetation.
Veterans Exposed in Hawaii and Puerto Rico
Veterans who were serving in these locations during the corresponding times of herbicide testing may be eligible for VA disability benefits for conditions related to herbicide exposure. Unfortunately, many veterans receive denials of service-connected compensation for their disabilities. For a free case evaluation to determine if we can assist you in appealing an unfavorable VA benefits decision, call our office today at 800-544-9144.