Agent Orange Awareness Day Date in the current year: August 10, 2024

Agent Orange Awareness Day Agent Orange Awareness Day is observed on August 10 to recognize the date in 1961 when the U.S. military first used Agent Orange as part of its herbicidal warfare program in Vietnam, raise awareness of the detrimental effects of Agent Orange exposure on human health, and pay tribute to those who died because of it.

Agent Orange is a herbicide chemical that was originally developed for use in industrial agriculture. It has defoliant properties, i.e. causes the leaves of plants to fall off. In addition to agriculture, defoliants were used in warfare to deprive the enemy of cover and food crops.

The United States military used a variety of herbicides in Operation Ranch Hand during the Vietnam War. This herbicidal warfare program involved assisting the Republic of Vietnam Air Force in spraying millions of gallons of herbicidal and defoliant chemicals over South Vietnam in order to deprive the Viet Cong of vegetation cover and food.

The chemicals that were used in Operation Ranch Hand are collectively known as Rainbow Herbicides. They included Agent Green, Agent Pink, Agent Purple, Agent Orange, Agent White, and Agent Blue. Although Agent Orange was not the only herbicide used in Vietnam, it was used in more than half of all flying missions of the US Air Force there.

Agent Orange has had a significant health impact on the Vietnamese people and Vietnam veterans who were exposed to it. This chemical is linked to the development of various types of cancer, birth defects, and other serious and potentially deadly health problems. American soldiers who fought in Vietnam were told that Agent Orange was harmless, but they began to suspect otherwise after returning home.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Vietnam veterans who had been exposed to Agent Orange began to file compensation claims with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and lawsuits against the companies which manufactured the toxic herbicide. In 1991, the US Congress enacted Agent Orange Act that established provisions for an independent, in-depth study of the effects of Agent Orange exposure.

Agent Orange Awareness Day was launched in 1988 to inform Vietnam veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange about its health effects and encourage them to seek assistance through special programs offered by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. The date of August 10 was chosen to commemorate the day in 1961 when the herbicide was first used in Vietnam.

Today, Agent Orange Awareness Day is promoted by various veterans and military organizations across the country. They organize candlelight vigils and other memorial events in honor of those who were exposed to Agent Orange and are suffering or have died because of it, campaigns against the use of chemical warfare, and fundraisers to support Vietnam veterans.

You can observe Agent Orange Awareness Day by learning more about the effects of herbicidal warfare, attending a remembrance ceremony or visiting a Vietnam memorial near you, lighting a candle to honor the memory of those who have succumbed to illness caused by Agent Orange, donating to a veterans organization, and raising awareness on social media with the hashtag #AgentOrangeAwarenessDay.

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Agent Orange Awareness Day, observances in the United States, herbicidal warfare, Operation Ranch Hand, Vietnam War