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ProPublica, Virginian-Pilot Convening Asks: Has Agent Orange Hurt the Children of Vietnam Vets?

June 20, 2016: This story has been updated to include the participation of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot are hosting a panel discussion on June 30 in Washington, D.C. on the multigenerational impacts of Agent Orange. Entitled A Toxic Legacy: Has Agent Orange Hurt the Children of Vietnam Vets?, the convening will explore common health conditions in the descendants of Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange; the scant research on those conditions; and, if there is a link to the toxic herbicide, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ responsibility in caring for impacted children and grandchildren of veterans. After the discussion, Virginian-Pilot and ProPublica reporters will record interviews with veterans and their children as part of their joint investigation on the subject.

“While government officials debate this issue, and legislation stalls that would require the VA to conduct more research, the voices of everyday people can get overlooked,” said ProPublica senior reporter Charles Ornstein, who will moderate the panel. “We look forward to hearing from policy experts and medical officials at this important forum, and we are equally honored to gather the testimonies of veterans and their families.”

Mike Hixenbaugh, investigative reporter for The Virginian-Pilot, and Terry Parris Jr., community editor for ProPublica, will also give an overview of their reporting, a crowdsourced effort that has received more than 5,000 responses from impacted families.

WHAT: A Toxic Legacy: Has Agent Orange Hurt the Children of Vietnam Vets?

WHEN: Thursday, June 30

  • 9:30 am – 10 am: Continental Breakfast
  • 10 am – 11:30 am: Panel Discussion
  • 11:30 am – 1 pm: Recording Sessions

WHERE: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Barbara Jordan Conference Center, 1330 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20005


  • Heather Bowser, co-founder of the Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance
  • Linda Spoonster Schwartz, assistant secretary for policy and planning for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Kenneth Ramos, chairman of the Institute of Medicine
  • Rory Riley-Topping, former lawyer for the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, principal at Riley-Topping Consulting
  • Other invited speakers and guests

RSVP here. Tickets are free, but limited.

For decades after the Vietnam War ended, veterans have fought for compensation and benefits as a result of their exposure to the toxic herbicide known as Agent Orange. There’s a strong belief among Vietnam veterans that their exposure to Agent Orange has also led to health problems in their children – not only birth defects, but in some cases, conditions that manifest late in life. Despite decades of anecdotal evidence, today there's been only sparse research done to prove a definitive link. This discussion will elevate the myriad issues from both personal and expert perspectives.

For more information on this event, contact Cynthia Gordy, marketing director, at [email protected] or 917-703-1242.

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