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Community mourns loss of children’s advocate

On December 2, 2014

Ken Herrmann was an Associate Professor at the College at Brockport for nearly four decades. Herrmann was a social 
activist, author, news consultant, father, husband and war veteran.

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As a global serviceman, war veteran, author, a teacher, Associate Professor of Social Work for the College at Brockport as well as a voice for those who have nothing, Ken Herrmann’s legacy is one of strong impact. 

After battling pancreatic cancer, Herrmann passed away in his home, Nov. 2, at the age of 71. 

Herrmann was a member of the college’s community for 37 years. Through 1960 to 1969, he was a battalion leader in the war in Vietnam where he earned a Bronze Star for his efforts. His tour in Vietnam would forever change the Buffalo, New York, native. Herrmann spent the majority of his life advocating for the citizens in Vietnam who still struggle today with the aftermath of the war.

The war in Vietnam included new and modern tactics for defeating enemies, which included the use of a toxic chemical called Agent Orange. Agent Orange was a herbicide used to remove foliage and make the enemies more visible. The chemical infected the water and crops of Vietnamese farms, which was then eaten by the natives. The effects of this ingested toxin was evident in the following generations.

The poison has had a lasting impact on the people of Vietnam as it infected the drinking water, causing mutations carried down through the generations. Fixing this blot on American history has been at the forefront of Herrmann’s philanthropy and life’s work.

Herrmann has written many books about the people of Vietnam affected by Agent Orange. His latest book, printed in January 2014, “Child Welfare Practice: A Conversation About Reality” focuses on his experience in the American childhood.  He draws on his expertise from being on the board over more than half a dozen boards regarding childcare and mental health.

Herrmann has published many interviews and opinion pieces to news outlets and has made guest appearances on media programs worldwide, according to an article published by the college. Also according to the article, Herrmann commissioned the first-ever study on child sex-trafficking for UNICEF, as well as published five books and peer reviews. 

In 2001, Herrmann started an organization, Danang/QuangNam, also known as Agent Orange Children. The organization provides monetary aid to victims of Agent Orange attacks by the U.S. government. 

Herrmann made 49 trips to Vietnam, where he estimated that more than 13,000 victims of Agent Orange have been helped through various means, a small dent in the estimated four million Vietnamese citizens exposed to the poison. 

Donations in Herrmann’s honor may be directed to the Danang/QuangNam Fund, Inc., or to Brockport’s International Education Program designating the Brockport Vietnam Program. 

All information presented in this article was compiled by associate professor and chairmen of the Criminal Justice department, Korni Swaroop Kumar.

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