A Minnesota PBS Initiative
Agent Orange Close to Home
Maynard Kaderlik was stationed in the Mekong Delta during his service in Vietnam. He recalls vibrant rivers that were full of life, and just 24 hours after spraying Agent Orange, looked “gray and dead and scary.” His life on the river exposed him to Agent Orange via the air he breathed, and through the water he drank and bathed in.
40 years later, it is causing problems not only to us, but to our kids and grandkids. It very much upsets us that our children have to suffer something that the government put on us while we were there.
There are many devastating symptoms associated with Agent Orange, a widely-used chemical used in Vietnam to defoliate areas in order to expose the enemy.
Both he and his brother came home after serving in Vietnam with Agent Orange in their blood. Both suffered from cancer, with no prior family history of the disease.
Including cancer, there are over 800 different problems associated with Agent Orange exposure including Autism, Parkinson’s, MS, blood disorders, learning disabilities, and immune disorders. Kaderlik didn’t realize when he was serving the long-term effects that the exposure to Agent Orange would not only have on his life, but the lives of generations in his family, like his young granddaughter Jayda.
Kaderlik and his brother believe that they are genetically passing on negative effects of their chemical exposure in Vietnam to their kids and grandkids.
“When it comes home to roost in you and your children and grandchildren, it becomes a very important topic,” he says. “40 years later, it is causing problems not only to us, but to our kids and grandkids. It very much upsets us that our children have to suffer something that the government put on us while were were there.”
Kaderlik has taken on a national leadership position to pass important legislation to move this issue forward and do research that is needed to protect the kids. “So, we are fighting the fight to get the government to follow through on this and have our children taken care of after we’re gone.”
This story was recorded by Twin Cities PBS at Moir Park in Bloomington, MN in July 2017.
Story Themes: Agent Orange, Cancer, Family, Legislation, Maynard Kaderlik, Mekong Delta, Video, Vietnam Veterans of America