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Katko pushing legislation to care for, compensate veterans who are victims of Agent Orange

Ellen Abbott
Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) speaking about his support for legislation to help victims of Agent Orange.

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) is introducing legislation he hopes will unearth definitive answers about the effects of Agent Orange on U.S. veterans who served in Vietnam and Korea.

Central New Yorker Larry Hackett served for two years in Vietnam in the late 1960s.

“He survived the war, returned home to central New York, started a family with his wife Alice, and started a wonderful life here. Three decades later he discovered that the war had followed him home,” said Onondaga County Court Judge Joe Fahey, telling the story of his friend Hackett.

Fahey says he believes it was exposure to Agent Orange that followed Hackett home, and led to a premature death -- at age 58 -- of a cancer that’s been linked to the chemical defoliant that was used during the Vietnam and Korean Wars.  

Katko hopes legislation named after Hackett will put the spotlight on Agent Orange 

"Agent Orange is a problem that still persists. And now we’re starting to see that it now that it not only affects the veterans, but also affects the veterans’ families,” said Katko. “But we see glimpses of it here, and anecdotal evidence there, and a little bit of a study here. Not enough of a coordinated study has been done and not enough of a coordinated analysis has been done to blow the lid off this issue once and for all.”

The legislation would create a task force that conduct a comprehensive review of the effects of Agent Orange, and then come up with recommendations for the care and compensation for vets exposed to the chemical as well as their families. 

The legislation was previously introduced during the 113th Congress by former Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse). 

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.