Clay Risen, Deputy Opinion Editor of The New York Times recently profiled Dick Pirozzolo and Michael Morris authors of "Escape from Saigon - a Novel" for an article on the medical consequences of spraying the defoliant Agent Orange throughout Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Risen asked Pirozzolo and Morris about their encounter with Agent Orange when they served in Vietnam, its effect on their health and their struggles with the Veterans Administration over benefits in connection with exposure since that time.
The article, titled Agent Orange and Us is part of The Times year-long Vietnam '67 series. In this piece Risen points out that the VA is now considering whether to link four more illnesses to Agent Orange exposure as well as whether to extend benefits to Navy and Marine personnel who served offshore. The four ailments are bladder cancer, Graves' disease, Parkinson's disease-like symptoms and hypertension, all of which are more prevalent in Vietnam veterans than those of the same age who did not serve in Vietnam.
Some veterans who served stateside and flew in airplanes such as the C-123 that transported or sprayed Agent Orange may also qualify for benefits. Agent Orange is commonly used to describe a host of defoliants used during the war.
"If you have relatives or friends whom you believe might qualify, please let them know about these possible changes. Every town or county in America has a VA agent or the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) can provide details," urges Pirozzolo.
Risen points out: "During the Vietnam War, the United States sprayed some 20 million gallons of the defoliant known as Agent Orange over South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Nearly four million people were exposed to the chemical, which the government claimed was non-toxic.
"The government was wrong: Fifty years later, approximately one million people in Asia and the United States suffer from a range of disorders, including multiple forms of cancer, that have been linked to Agent Orange exposure.
For the complete article visit The New York Times series Vietnam '67
Massachusetts Author Laura Harrington Wins Praise for Her Novel on the
Environmental Impact of Vietnam and the Heartbreak of Coming Home
Right on the heels of The New York Times article on the perils of Agent Orange exposure and how it affected the authors of "Escape from Saigon," a new novel on war and its environmental consequences comes to light.
"A Catalogue of Birds," by Gloucester, Massachusetts author Laura Harrington, tells the story of a family recovering from the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the mysterious disappearance of a young woman, while also exploring the environmental destruction that accompanies war.
Harrington's new novel has received early praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and The Week as one of the 28 books to read this year. Rachel Kadish, an award-winning author, wrote: “Laura Harrington weaves American history and natural history into a riveting story of damage and resilience. Harrington’s voice is as clear and distinctive as a bird call.”
Harrington, a 25-year resident of Gloucester, has written extensively for theater, including plays, operas, musicals, radio plays, screenplays, television scripts, and lyrics. In 2011, she published her first novel, "Alice Bliss," which received widespread praise, winning the Massachusetts Book Award Winner for Fiction and becoming a Boston Globe bestseller.
Harrington's family is no stranger to war and service. The author, whose father served in World War II, remembers well the era of the Vietnam War and the conversations that took place around the family dinner table.
Says the author: At the heart of the novel is the relationship between siblings Nell and Billy Flynn. Nell excels academically and is headed to college and a career in science. Billy, a passionate artist, enlists as a pilot to fulfill his lifelong dream of flying. He returns home so seriously wounded he may never use his right hand again. As Billy struggles to regain the life he once had, Nell and their family will have to do all that’s possible to save him.
Harrington is the 2008 Kleban Award Winner for most promising librettist in American Musical Theatre. Harrington has twice won both the Massachusetts Cultural Council Award and the Clauder Competition for best new play in New England.
For the complete review and Laura Harrington's upcoming speaking events and books signings visit The Gloucester Times.