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Soldiers in Vietnam, photographs from the Walter Lewis Kudlacik Collection, Veterans' History Project, ca. 1970

These snapshots taken by an American soldier who served in Vietnam show the region’s dense jungle growth that provided cover for North Vietnamese forces––and the barren aftermath of spraying Agent Orange. Congress sought to understand the impact of exposure to the herbicide on veterans’ health.

American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

 Soldiers in Vietnam, photographs from the Walter Lewis Kudlacik Collection, Veterans' History Project, ca. 1970

Congress Investigates Agent Orange

In the late 1970s Congress began to address the effects of exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant used by the United States military during the Vietnam War. Congressional committees interviewed Vietnam veterans and consulted medical experts to explore possible links between Agent Orange and certain forms of cancer and other health problems. After experts confirmed the product was harmful to humans, Congress mandated the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct further research on consequences of Agent Orange exposure and passed laws providing benefits to injured veterans.