Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Disease Control and Epidemiology, Texas Veterans Agent Orange Assistance Program:
An Inventory of Records at the Texas State Archives, 1966-1969, 1981-1986 (bulk 1981-1985)
The Texas Veterans Agent Orange Assistance Program was created by House Bill 2129, 67th Legislature, in June 1981 and amended by Senate Bill 370, 68th Legislature, in May 1983. The purpose of the program was to assist Texas veterans of the Vietnam conflict who may have been exposed to Agent Orange, a herbicide used as a defoliant in Vietnam between 1965-1971 by U.S. military forces, and suspected of creating long-term health problems to those exposed. The Texas Department of Health's Bureau of Epidemiology administered the Agent Orange program and investigated the cause and effect relationships between the exposure of Vietnam veterans to herbicides, chemical defoliants, or other causative agents and the emergence of health problems. Veterans were referred to the program at the veteran's request if their physician or hospital suspected them of having a medical condition related to Agent Orange exposure. A Subject Selection Committee reviewed the medical records of referred veterans to determine eligibility for the program and selected veterans suitable for further study. The Department of Health and the University of Texas Health Science Centers cooperated in determining if the selected veterans had suffered their physical damage as a result of chemical exposure, and in performing pilot studies. The veterans were also offered genetic screening and counseling and were referred to state and federal agencies for medical and financial assistance. In addition, the Department of Health was to conduct a long-term epidemiological study of selected veterans or of veterans who had children born with birth defects after the parent's suspected exposure to chemical agents. The amending legislation, Senate Bill 370, also provided for the Agent Orange Advisory Committee. This committee was composed of twelve members including three Vietnam era veterans, who met four times a year and advised the Texas Board of Health on the administration and implementation of the Agent Orange program. Dr. George Anderson, M.D., was director of the Agent Orange program for the Department of Health. Harriet Franson was the program manager. Funding for the Agent Orange program was not continued by the Texas Legislature and the program was phased out as of August 31, 1985.
Types of records include committee minutes, correspondence, memos, studies, reports, research files, cassette tapes, newsletters, photographs, and program logs. Dates covered are 1966-1969, 1981-1986, the bulk dating 1981-1985. Records are of the activities and research of the Texas Veterans Agent Orange Assistance Program of the Texas Department of Health including the Subject Selection Committee and the Agent Orange Advisory Committee. Committee files, correspondence, administrative files and other records document both the administration of the Agent Orange program and its work with the veterans including the collection of clinical data for pilot medical studies. Many of the records consist of studies, reports, and research materials on Agent Orange compiled by the program staff. Some of this material came from Agent Orange programs in other states. Contacts with the veterans were kept anonymous and confidential through the use of a numerical code assigned to each veteran. Program logs were used to keep track of the contacts and the codes.
Minutes are from the Subject Selection Committee and record the decisions of the committee as they reviewed the medical histories of referred veterans and selected those eligible for the Agent Orange program. Other committee files include memos and copies of legislation from the Subject Selection Committee and correspondence and cassette tapes of meetings from the Agent Orange Advisory Committee. Correspondence files include original incoming, Department of Health memos, and copies of outgoing correspondence. The incoming correspondence often has a Department of Health memo attached discussing what action was taken in regard to that letter. Subject matter of the correspondence consists of requests for information on how the program was set up, how clinical studies were carried out, the costs involved, the outreach program conducted in Texas, and the demise of program. Other frequent correspondence topics include the Agent Orange program annual report, clinical study protocols, enabling legislation, and preliminary results of the studies. Much of the correspondence is from Vietnam veterans, their families, veterans' organizations and support groups. State agency correspondents include the Attorney General, Department of Corrections, the Health Science Centers of the University of Texas, and the Texas Veterans Commission. Other correspondents include the U.S. Veteran's Administration, other federal agencies, physicians, and hospitals. The studies, reports and research files include a wide variety of data assembled by the Agent Orange staff as they tested for links between Agent Orange and health problems of the veterans. One item of interest is a photographic scrapbook of chemical spraying and defoliation in Vietnam. Other records include newsletters of Vietnam veterans organizations, reports and correspondence from Agent Orange programs from other states, and copies of the “Agent Orange Review” published by the Veterans Administration. Program logs were used to keep track of Agent Orange referrals, requests for consultations, and studies of the veterans. Veterans contacted the program seeking medical consultation and assistance on occupational, psychological, and toxicological problems. Selected veterans were included in an enzyme study, cytogenetic testing, or an immunity evaluation. The identity of the veterans was kept anonymous by using the coded number in the logs.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
Restrictions on Access
The original control log is confidential (as set out by 38 U.S. Code, Section 3301) because it contains the names and addresses of the veterans in the study. A redacted copy of the control log from which the veterans names and addresses have been removed is available in the accession files. Ask reference staff for retrieval of the redacted log.
Index cards and mailing lists, containing the names and address of the veterans in the study are also confidential for the same reasons. They are not listed in the folder inventory. Ask the reference staff for assistance.
Restrictions on Use
(Identify the item), Records, Texas Veterans Agent Orange Assistance Program, Bureau of Disease Control and Epidemiology, Texas Department of Health. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 1991/35
These records were transferred to the Texas State Archives by the Texas Department of Health, via the Records Management Division of the Texas State Library, on December 7, 1990.
Paul Beck, July 1991
Detailed Description of the Records