Emo resident eager to embark on ‘Peace Boat’
As the voice and face of Agent Orange in Canada, Kenneth Young of Emo has travelled the globe bringing awareness to the effects caused by the harmful herbicide and defoliant used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War from 1961-71.
But the 64-year-old is especially excited to continue his Agent Orange awareness campaign aboard the “Peace Boat,” a Japan-based, international non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development, and respect for the environment.
There, Young will meet with Vietnamese survivors of Agent Orange as well as the U.S. ambassador in Vietnam.
“His role is that he is going to be teaching about what happened in Canada at CFB Gagetown,” noted Young’s son, Daniel, who also lives in Emo, adding his father will give a 75-minute lecture to university students aboard the Peace Boat.
“They called him in as an expert on the subject because he’s been an advocate for so many years, researching and getting all the facts on the matter,” Daniel Young said.
“And he’s been disseminating that through the Internet and other means.
“He’s been published probably hundreds of times now. He’s been really focused on this mission to get the information out there.
“He’s excited but a little nervous, too,” admitted Daniel Young, referring to his father’s upcoming presentation.
A Canadian veteran and first generation Agent Orange survivor, Kenneth Young also will be travelling alongside Heather Bowser, a second-generation American Agent Orange survivor, and Jenna Mack, an 18-year-old third-generation American survivor.
Bowser was born with multiple birth defects as a result of her father’s exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin during the Vietnam War while Mack’s mother was born with severe hip dysplasia, suffers from lupus, and also developed an extremely rare form of cancer five years ago.
This is the first documented case of three generations of survivors from the U.S. and Canada travelling to Vietnam to build ties with Vietnamese survivors and to raise awareness of the global scale of the Agent Orange legacy.
Young indicated in an previous interview that Vietnam has suffered the most from the side effects Agent Orange caused, including “birth defects, 15 different types of cancers, diabetes, and destroying the immune system.”
There are an estimated 300,000-500,000 third-generation casualties, some of which Young noticed while in Vietnam last year, where he was a speaker at the Second International Conference of Agent Orange/Dioxin
Young said the dioxin has the ability to change DNA, thus “it could affect children or grandchildren”—even if they were not directly exposed to the chemicals.
“[The U.S. government] sprayed a lot in Vietnam,” he noted.
Canada, however, also played a role. “Canada produced a lot of it for the U.S., and they tested it in Gagetown, N.B. between 1956 and 1984,” Young said.
“They sprayed 3.3 million pounds in New Brunswick,” he noted.
“We’re involved whether we want to admit it or not.”
Young is the director and spokesperson for Agent Orange and other Chemical Defoliants for the Canadian Veterans Advocacy, Our Duty, the Agent Orange Association of Canada, and other veterans’ organizations.
He was named the voice and face of Agent Orange in Canada by the First Canadian Veterans Ombudsman, and has since expanded his work to include all of the rainbow chemicals, depleted uranium, burn pits, and the world’s nuclear veterans.
Earlier this year, Young also was honoured with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his volunteer work with veterans’ groups.