Carol Annia Yannacone: caring about the victims of Agent Orange
From 8 January 1979 through 21 October 1983—more than 249 weeks—Carol Annia Yannacone listened to and counseled the Vietnam combat veterans suffering and dying from the illness and disease resulting from their exposure to dioxin contaminated phenoxy herbicides during their service in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.
Not just the Vietnam combat veterans
But it was not just the veterans who looked to Carol for counsel and support, it was their wives, girlfriends, parents, and children, and the husbands and boyfriends of the nurses and other women who served “in country.” She not only listened to the mothers of the children with catastrophic polygenetic physical birth defects but who were otherwise “normal,” she talked with them about their doctors and hospitals, their diagnosis and treatments, and listened to the problems they were facing at home, in the workplace and with the VA. Most of all Carol convinced them they were not alone and helped them network with the other mothers. Sons and daughters in the network helped each other understand what their parents were going through.
Carol was the only scientifically and medically trained professional other than Victor Yannacone working full time on behalf of the Viet Nam veterans and their families without pay; all the while raising her daughter Claire who, after school, on weekends, and during school vacations, played with and entertained the disabled children of the veterans who visited the Agent Orange office in the house next door to home.
Gathering and organizing the medical evidence
Carol conducted intake interviews on more than 3,295 individual veterans; opened, maintained, and managed their claim files; consulted with doctors and expert witnesses throughout the country and helped develop and maintained the CHAOS (Case Histories of Agent Orange Survivors) relational data bases from which the information used to negotiate the settlement was ultimately derived. She reviewed the epidemiological and animal study data from the documents produced by the corporate defendant war contractors, particularly from The Dow Chemical Company and distributed the information and her insights to physicians, scientists, veterans and their families throughout the world: the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—all the countries where Vietnam combat veterans returned home.
Carol alerted the Vietnam combat veterans in all countries that they may have come home as carriers of the tropical disease melioidosis and then she alerted health care providers about the only effective, but little known, antibiotic treatment protocol!
Carol Yannacone is still the single individual most knowledgeable about the general health of the Viet Nam combat veterans and their families in the world today. Without the information that Carol Yannacone developed about the health of the Viet Nam veterans and their families there would have been no “Agent Orange” settlement.
The lasting contribution of Carol Yannacone to the Vietnam combat veterans
Only now, as more and more scientific research is reported, can the real value of the work Carol Yannacone did begin to be fully appreciated. The empirical observations she made permitted Victor Yannacone to make the tactical and strategic decisions as lead counsel for the plaintiff Viet Nam veterans which eventually led to the settlement of the Agent Orange Litigation, and belated recognition by the Veterans Administration that illness and disease resulting from exposure to dioxin contaminated herbicides during the War in Southeast Asia was “service connected” and the veterans and their widows were entitled to disability and death benefits.