"If overnight it would kill all the vegetation, what did they think it was going to do to us?" asked Joel Buckner, of Little Rock.
The 68-year-old former Navy pilot was diagnosed two years ago with stage four non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He thought he was a walking dead man but now he is 16 months into remission.
Bruckner is indicative of what the Veterans Administration calls a "surge" in new cases. The VA in March 2010 expanded the number of Agent Orange related illness and predicted it would see 100,000 veterans filing claims through 2012.
By its own estimates, the U.S. government sprayed 20 million gallons of the herbicide Agent Orange over southeast Asia as part of Operation Ranch Hand between 1962-1971. The purpose was to eliminate forests and jungles where the North Vietnamese Communist forces and Viet Cong could hide.
In the years after the war ended, some veterans exposed to the toxic chemical became ill and their children were born with birth defects.
It is that tragic legacy that the Parks family must live with every day.
Sylvia Parks' husband Roy died in 2009 of multiple cancers associated with exposure to Agent Orange when he was serving in the Army during the Vietnam War.
Their youngest son David was born with deformed hands and feet.
"I was very, very upset because had we known, I'm sure there's other people who would, had they known, thought more about having more children," Parks said.
David Parks underwent more than a dozen surgeries to correct his birth defects. Sylvia Parks says the government at the time did not recognize those defects as being related to Agent Orange exposure. Because of that, she said her family did not get any support to cover David's medical bills.
"He tried to live a full, normal life," Sylvia Parks said. Her youngest son became a paramedic and was among the first responders to the Pentagon when terrorists attacked on 9/11.
David Parks died in April 2011 of unknown causes.
The VA did not provide KARK with the latest statistics of Vietnam veterans filing claims.