‘I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine.’
‘Corrupt men need nothing more to accomplish their deeds than that good men should look on and do nothing’John Stuart Mill - New Jersey author Patrick Hogan served in the Vietnam war from 1966 – 1969 stationed in areas of South Vietnam that had been sprayed directly with several tactical military-grade pesticides. Upon returning to the US he earned degrees from Fairleigh Dickenson University's Edward Williams College and John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Criminal Investigations while working with the police department and eventually trained at NJ State Police Academy in Advanced Drug Enforcement, the International Association of Chiefs of Police course in Command Staff Training Program and New England Institute of Law Enforcement and Management (Babson College) for a Command Training Program. Two significant sources for the writing of this book – chemical exposure while serving in Vietnam and experience in criminal investigation.
This very well written book is one that is not only important but one that unveils the corrupt manner in which the Vietnam War was ‘managed’ = both during the conflict and after war’s end. It is a paean to those who suffered critical and debilitating effects from the various agents and chemicals that served as part of the arsenal of that war. As Patrick states in his opening chapter, ‘With so many pressing issues and difficulties in today’s world, some people view the continuing health problems and illnesses surrounding numerous “in-country” (boots-on-the-ground) Vietnam veterans as inconsequential in comparison.1 But make no mistake about it: even though President Nixon’s magnificent political declaration of “peace with honor” and the fall of Saigon in April of 1975 were supposed to symbolize the ending of the war in Vietnam, it hasn’t ended for me or for other military personnel who served the United States in South Vietnam. For many of us, our battles continue even to this day, only now, our conflicts aren’t with the Viet Cong (VC) or the North Vietnamese army. Instead, our conflicts are with the myriad cancers, illnesses, and health issues that we—and even many of our children—must battle with, day in and day out.2 Our clashes and struggles are with the bureaucratic systems of the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and with the very government that sent us to South Vietnam in the first place. You can rest assured, the Vietnam War isn’t over—not by a long shot. The fact veterans who served in Vietnam must struggle with innumerable cancers, illnesses, and other health problems almost certainly caused by the highly toxic synthetic chemicals they were exposed to during the war is shameful—especially when you consider that those contaminated pesticides were atomized into a fine mist and sprayed onto them by their government/military leaders. They were lethal, enduring pesticides that are still quite capable of claiming new lives daily, even though the Vietnam War has been diplomatically resolved for almost half a century. As if being exposed to health-damaging pesticides wasn’t bad enough, boots-on-the-ground veterans were tactlessly thrown “under the bus,” so to speak, by those very same government officials. Then, to add insult to injury, after being treacherously betrayed by administrative bureaucrats—who for the most part were sitting safely in Washington, DC during the war—they proceeded to back their “bus” up and run over veterans again and again, just for good measure. This book is my view from under that titanic governmental “bus.”
Filled with facts, photographs, research and documentation, this book reveals the atrocities our Vietnam vets suffered and continue to suffer. It puts the spotlight on the government blindness and cover-ups that continue today in the misguided use of dangerous chemicals in our environment. This is one powerful book that deserves wide recognition and readership.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.