Proposed Agent Orange Fairness Act Named After Syracuse Native

Jun 4, 2014

A Central New York Vietnam Veteran who likely died of cancer from Agent Orange exposure now has his name on proposed legislation to support other veterans and families.  The Lawrence J. Hackett, Jr. Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Fairness Act unveiled today would ensure that veterans and their families would get the necessary healthcare and compensation to cover them.  A longtime friend of Hackett’s, Judge Joseph Fahey says his friend’s story is similar to others.

Judge Joseph Fahey speaks about his friend Lawrence J. Hackett, Jr.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

“Larry and many other Vietnam Veterans across the country were exposed to Agent Orange, a toxic chemical defoliant chosen by our government and manufactured by American chemical companies.  Exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to a wide range of cancers including the one that took Larry’s life. Many Veterans and their families continue to suffer and die.”

As he looks at the daily obituaries, Fahey says he’s noticed other Vietnam Veterans dying of cancers undoubtedly caused by the same exposure.  Hackett’s Wife, Alice was overcome with emotion.

Alice Hackett, the wife of Lawrence J. Hackett, Jr.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

“The Hackett Family is honored to have this bill named after Larry.  But we also want people to know that he would not want to be remembered for how he died but, rather how he lived his life. With love for his family and friends and with honor and patriotism for his country.”

The legislation is being introduced by Congressmember Dan Maffei.  Previous legislation dealing with Agent Orange has already been passed but, Maffei says it hasn’t been 100 percent effective.

Congressmember Dan Maffei talks about why proposed legislation is necessary to help Veterans and families suffering from Agent Orange.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

“There are too many of the victims, whether they’re the actual veterans themselves or their families who are falling through the cracks; no compensation, no place to go, necessarily.  Or no knowledge of what’s there and that’s why we need a real commission to look at this and to examine it.” 

Maffei and others point to the long-term effects of Agent Orange they say have also caused birth defects in children of Veterans and their grandchildren.  An estimated 18 million gallons of the defoliant was sprayed over 3.6 million acres during the Vietnam War. Maffei feels the proposed legislation will be able to get enough support. He says if the proposal was presented to Congress as a similar compensation fund like the 9/11 Fund for first responders; there wouldn't be enough support. However, he is optimistic to gain support through a professional commission with the Government and the private sector that would lend more credibility to the idea.