We are an elite group. You don’t want to be one of us. Fitting in is not a compliment, it is a curse. Our parents not only paid the cost for the endurance of freedom, but they passed it on for us to endure as well. We are the hidden mass that no one, including our government, wants to mention or listen to.
We are the children of Agent Orange!
Many thought Agent Orange issues would disappear once the Vietnam Vets passed, which they are doing more rapidly than any other group of war veterans in the history of our great country. They were wrong however!
Those exposed to Agent Orange between the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts reproduced. The government, while exposing our soldiers to this elaborate compound, never did research and development on long term effects from claims given. If they had, which I’m sure they did, they hid and ignored the results. Agent Orange didn’t just stay with those originally exposed. Instead, the soldiers and veterans accidentally passed their curse onto their offspring.
Here’s the clincher for our group; no one “Agent Orange Child” has the same afflictions. Yet, we all suffer from the hands of a mutinous and uncaring government that poisoned our parents, never looking at what it would do for generations to come.
While our parents are dying before getting the benefits from the exposure, and poisoning, from the government, a new era dawns. There are finally groups also fighting for the innocent children born to this as well. The battle, of course, will be uphill and hard.
Imagine never smoking a single cigarette or doing anything to harm your lungs, yet every little bug turns into an upper respiratory, then full blown pneumonia. Imagine having strokes equal to a 50+ year old person’s before you can even turn 30. Reproductive problems, similar to those found in generations who have a direct lineage to those who took DDE for morning sickness (my MeeMaw took this) have also been cited. The health problems continue with all organs, for Agent Orange loves attacking organs. Your internal body ages quicker due to being born with the illness.
Many of the babies born to Vietnam veterans were born sick. I, for one, was two weeks late. I was born dying, as some would say. I was under a jaundice light with all types of treatments. My heart was deformed. I stayed sick as a baby, as did my sister.
Skin conditions are also big in this elite group. These are rare skin conditions, as well. Every time the season changes, my hands and feet are covered in blisters. Most do not hurt, but they are ugly and cumbersome when trying to achieve tasks. I have ultra sensitive skin. I can use the best products the world over for body wash, shampoo, conditioner, laundry, lotion, etc; yet my skin still breaks open from being dry, and there is nothing I can do but salve and bandage the breaks.
Then, there are the one in a billion children. I am one of these. I never realized, until talking to every birth defect group possible, that my conditions could all be tied into one factor: Agent Orange. At the age of 16, literally one month before my 17th birthday, the rarest condition I have peaked it’s ugly head out. My dad had a flashback during a fight, and I went through my door. (Please understand, I’ve never held this against my dad. He had no control over his PTSD or flashbacks, and he died with the guilt of my back unfortunately.) I went to a chiropractor a week later, when I couldn’t hold myself up with my legs. He popped 7 vertebrae back in alignment, but I still couldn’t stand, or walk. Slowly, my dad and I made it to where I could use crutches or a cane to divert the weight from my legs to an inanimate object, and I tried going to school with this. To my horror, my thinking of “I’m a body builder. I will wake up soon, and this will all be a nightmare,” did not apply. It did not get better, but instead worse. The school was not exactly ADA compliant, and would not agree to homebound schooling, and the teachers were failing me, an honors student out. With tears in my eyes, and my scholarships vanishing, I told my dad to pull me out of school. Yes, because of my back, I am a high school drop out. I then learned that military, scholarships, the most prestigious theatre arts school, EVERYTHING I had for my future was GONE! I was paralyzed from the waist down. The most horrid part, however, is I could feel EVERYTHING! While going through several months of tests and treatments, the doctors had to keep me on a high dosage of everything.
Come November, my doctors still were no closer to an answer. They wanted to go in for exploratory surgery, which I flat out refused. My shooting instructor called, and told me of a chiropractor to go to. Now, I had my reservations. We are talking about someone going to some of the best neurosurgeons while the medical bills are going sky high, but I figured I had nothing to lose. Dr. Smith (now retired) looked at my x-ray, circled one spot, and then informs me I have a one in a billion birth defect. I have an extra bone in my pelvis, a mutation. It attached to the left lobe of my lowest vertebra and then snapped apart, essentially eating my sciatic nerve in half. He got it to line up correctly, and I spent a few months relearning how to walk. Surgery is not an option, for I only have a 30% chance of walking away from it. From what Dr. Smith said, if I sneeze wrong, I’ll be paralyzed for the rest of my life. (Pleasing thought, wouldn’t you agree?)
I’ve tried to do more research on this condition for 14 years now, and have came up with only a small amount of information. This condition is normally found in such places as where nuclear bombs or other high chemical concentrations occur. So, I went to birth defect group after birth defect group. Finally, an answer. They believe it is Agent Orange related. There is an Agent Orange Children’s Clinic planned in Florida, if they ever get the money raised, and they want to see me once built.
We watch as our parents have glowing organs, knowing this will be us at their age or earlier. We watch as they die miserable, painful deaths, knowing this is our fate. We bury them after the PTSD makes suicide their end. A select few, those raised by single parents, awaken them during their graphic nightmares, and get to know Vietnam better than most. We also suffer mentally and physically with them.
Let us be heard! Share our struggle! Don’t let our government and society hide us any longer! We, and our parents, have suffered in the dark long enough!