Agent Orange is a toxic chemical that was used to clear foliage during the Vietnam War to make it easier for the US military to get through dense forests. It is believed that Agent Orange causes several illnesses.
Riding for Agent Orange Victims
Romberger’s father, Cliff Romberger, a Vietnam War veteran, died of brain disease in 2015. Doctors linked the disease to Romberger’s exposure to Agent Orange during the war. Colt Romberger’s incredible mission in the saddle of his horse is in honor of his father. Both Colt and has father had a deep affection for horses and pride in serving their country.
On his (1) GoFundMe page, Colt Romberger explains his reasons for the challenging ride.
“My Dad was a Vietnam Veteran. He was also my best friend and instilled in me his deep love and life-long passion for horses. On September 24, 2015 he succumbed to a brain disease caused by exposure to the chemical Agent Orange during his service in Vietnam. Before he passed, I promised him I would do something for his fellow brothers in arms, in hope that I could ease their pain for having to fight the war again many years later.”
The 32-year-old is riding on his 4-year-old horse named Gus. As well as raising money for the non-profit organization he has established for Vietnam veterans suffering from Agent Orange related conditions, Colt Romberger hopes to raise awareness about the devastating effect Agent Orange is having on thousands of Vietnam veterans.
Effects of Agent Orange
Romberger said (2) that sometimes it breaks his heart listening to the stories of veterans living with crushing effects of the deadly Agent Orange.
One particularly emotional story Romberger recounts is of a Vietnam veteran in Norfolk, Virginia, who sent Romberger $200 when he heard about the ride. Romberger called the man to thank him and learned he was dying from a form of leukemia. The disease, it is believed, had been caused by exposure to the deadly Agent Orange, though had not yet been classified due to there being insufficient cases of Agent Orange conditions for the Department of Veterans Affairs to study. The man was hoping the US government would associate Agent Orange with his disease in time for his wife to receive his survivor’s benefits. Romberger recalls how the man passed away before managing to secure the approval.
Colt Romberger is carrying out his challenging journey with his late father’s close friend, Kenney Reichel. Reichel will drive a truck alongside Romberger, carrying supplies and towing a horse trailer, whilst looking for places for the team to sleep for the night.
Romberger estimates they will travel an average of 25 miles a day, and the pace will be generally set by Gus the horse. Romberger spoke of the dangers of riding a horse in the city, stating:
“The potential of getting injured on this thing is high. When you’re riding on city streets, a horse can spook and get hit by a truck.”
Agent Orange was used as part of the US military’s program of defoliation, (3) codenamed Operation Ranch Hand. The substance contains the dioxin chemical. Between 1961 and 1972, more than 19 million gallons of herbicides were prayed over 4.5 million acres of land in Vietnam to eliminate forest cover for US troops.
Vietnam Veterans Compensated in 2015
The chemical dioxin was later revealed to cause serious health problems, including cancers, tumors, rashes, birth defects and psychological symptoms., amongst US servicemen who had served in the Vietnam war, their families, and the Vietnamese population.
In 2015, it was announced that US Vietnam veterans would finally be granted compensation for conditions and disabilities caused by the Agent Orange defoliate chemical.
As (4) Top Secret Writers wrote at the time, finally being given compensation is a “major victory for these veterans and reservists who have been denied for over four decades.”
Despite inroads being made in giving Vietnam veterans exposed to and suffering from Agent Orange related illnesses and disabilities, more needs to be done to raise awareness of the subject and give the victims and their families the justice they deserve.
Colt Romberger’s inspiring ride on horseback across America to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. will help launch the topic into the public domain so the effects can be recognized and addressed with the respect and dedication they deserve.