About 125,000 Kentuckians served in the military during the Vietnam War and many were exposed to a harmful herbicide used to clear vegetation on the battlefield. Illnesses from Agent Orange are showing up more in Vietnam veterans as they age.
Veterans exposed to Agent Orange have an increased risk of developing illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Many veterans who served on the ground in Vietnam were exposed to the chemical and, for a majority of them, their health has been affected in some way.
David Cowherd, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter in Elizabethtown, says the harmful effects of the herbicide have spread beyond service members themselves.
"It seems to alter the DNA of the veteran that was exposed and that travels on to their descendant, so now we're seeing a lot of children that have issues and even grandchildren," Cowherd told WKU Public Radio.
For many Vietnam veterans, symptoms from their exposure to Agent Orange are developing as they grow older.
The Elizabethtown chapter of the VVA is hosting a public meeting Friday night in Glasgow for local veterans to learn more about Agent Orange. The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. at the National Guard Armory.