Sickened veterans, families, Congress wait on VA to release findings on Agent Orange exposure
By: Steve Andrews
Updated: May 18, 2018
HOLIDAY, FLA(WFLA) - For years, the family of Lonnie Kilpatrick suspected Agent Orange sickened not only Lonnie, but his children and grandchildren too.
While stationed in Guam, the Navy veteran, who died earlier this month, was exposed to the toxic herbicide, which the military used throughout the Vietnam war to wipe out jungle vegetation the enemy was hiding in.
"I know my kids they have, this thing that's caused by Agent Orange," Lonnie said in an interview in April. "I got a granddaughter that's already had brain surgery."
"They say it can be passed down for three generations," he added.
Betty Medkeci, the executive director of Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc. thinks its too early to say whether the grandchildren of veterans exposed to Agent Orange are experiencing health issues. It is her contention that neither the Department of Veterans Affairs nor private industry really wants to go there.
"We don't know, but we're not going to find out unless we do the research," Ms. Medkeci said.
Congress is still waiting to hear from the Department of Veterans Affairs whether birth defects and other health concerns showing up in the children and grandchildren of veterans are tied to the toxic defoliant.
In 2016, Congress passed legislation directing the V.A. to partner with the National Academy of Medicine "to assess the scientific research regarding descendants of individuals and veterans with toxic exposure," but Medkeci said the department failed to follow through on the directive.
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