Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance ~ Agent Orange Dioxin Survivors Uniting Internationally ~ 501C3 Registered Non-Profit
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9 Best Ways to Support Someone with Depression
Pysch-Central
MARGARITA TARTAKOVSKY, M.S.
 

If your loved one is struggling with depression, you may feel confused, frustrated and distraught yourself. Maybe you feel like you’re walking on eggshells because you’re afraid of upsetting them even more. Maybe you’re at such a loss that you’ve adopted the silent approach. Or maybe you keep giving your loved one advice, which they just aren’t taking.

Depression is an insidious, isolating disorder, which can sabotage relationships. And this can make not knowing how to help all the more confusing.

But your support is significant. And you can learn the various ways to best support your loved one. Below, Deborah Serani, PsyD, a psychologist who’s struggled with depression herself, shares nine valuable strategies.

1. Be there.

According to Serani, the best thing you can do for someone with depression is to be there. “When I was struggling with my own depression, the most healing moments came when someone I loved simply sat with me while I cried, or wordlessly held my hand, or spoke warmly to me with statements like ‘You’re so important to me.’ ‘Tell me what I can do to help you.’ ‘We’re going to find a way to help you to feel better.’”

2. Try a small gesture.

If you’re uncomfortable with emotional expression, you can show support in other ways, said Serani, who’s also author of the excellent book Living with Depression.

She suggested everything from sending a card or a text to cooking a meal to leaving a voicemail. “These gestures provide a loving connection [and] they’re also a beacon of light that helps guide your loved one when the darkness lifts.”

3. Don’t judge or criticize.

What you say can have a powerful impact on your loved one. According to Serani, avoid saying statements such as: “You just need to see things as half full, not half empty” or “I think this is really all just in your head. If you got up out of bed and moved around, you’d see things better.”

These words imply “that your loved one has a choice in how they feel – and has chosen, by free will, to be depressed,” Serani said. They’re not only insensitive but can isolate your loved one even more, she added.

4. Avoid the tough-love approach.

Many individuals think that being tough on their loved one will undo their depression or inspire positive behavioral changes, Serani said. For instance, some people might intentionally be impatient with their loved one, push their boundaries, use silence, be callous or even give an ultimatum (e.g., “You better snap out of it or I’m going to leave”), Serani said. But consider that this is as useless, hurtful and harmful as ignoring, pushing away or not helping someone who has cancer.

5. Don’t minimize their pain.

Statements such as“You’re just too thin-skinned” or “Why do you let every little thing bother you?” shame a person with depression, Serani said. It invalidates what they’re experiencing and completely glosses over the fact that they’re struggling with a difficult disorder – not some weakness or personality flaw.

To view tips 6-9 please visit the Psych-central article —
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/05/08/9-best-ways-to-support-someone-with-depression/

 

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Our society teaches us that nothing important happened before yesterday. Oh how wrong they are!

Carved on these walls is the story of America, of a continuing quest
to preserve both democracy and decency, and to protect a national
treasure that we call the American dream.”

There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall,
including those added in 2010.

The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us
by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to
believe it is 36 years since the last casualties.

Beginning at the apex on panel 1E and going out to the end of the East
wall, appearing to recede into the earth (numbered 70E – May 25,
1968), then resuming at the end of the West wall, as the wall emerges
from the earth (numbered 70W – continuing May 25, 1968) and ending
with a date in1975. Thus the war’s beginning and end meet. The war is
complete, coming full circle, yet broken by the earth that bounds the
angle’s open side and contained within the earth itself.

The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth,
Mass. listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed
on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son,
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on
Sept. 7, 1965.

There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.

39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.

The largest age group, 8,283 were just 19 years old 33,103 were 18 years old.

12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.

5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.

One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.

997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam .
1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam .

31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.

Thirty-one sets of parents lost two of their sons.

54 soldiers on attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia ….
wonder why so many from one school?

8 Women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded.

244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War
153 of them are on the Wall.

Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475, lost 6 of her sons.

West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation.
There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.

The Marines of Morenci – They led some of the scrappiest high school
football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of
Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring
beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado
Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. And in the
patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci’s mining families, the nine
graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps.
Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.

The Buddies of Midvale – LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales
were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in
Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a
few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field.
And they all went to Vietnam. In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967,
all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the
fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Jimmy died less
than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting
the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.

The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 – 2,415
casualties were incurred.

For most Americans who read this they will only see the numbers that
the Vietnam War created. To those of us who survived the war, and to
the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain
that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted
with these numbers, because they were our fellow servicemen and women,
friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters.

There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.

We Vietnam Veterans stand as one when we say,

“Never again will one generation of Veterans abandon another.”

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Agent Orange Video

Agent Orange Kelly L. Derricks

Kelly L. Derricks
COVVHA Co-Founder

COVVHA Co-founder, Kelly L. Derricks (Truth Teller) speaks about Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance and Agent Orange.  September 10, 2013 at the Doylestown VFW.  Click HERE watch more of COVVHA’s Agent Orange videos on YouTube.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6dz7N3ZZu4&feature=share&list=UUMsqSUpw5x45WJWvHUfha4w

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Agent Orange & Infertility – Issues all too common for children of Vietnam Veterans
AGENT ORANGE INFERTILITY CHILDREN OF VIETNAM VETERANS COVVHA.NET

Today my words are meant to help uplift, empower and heal you. I know the feelings written here personally and it has hurt me in the past. I would like to give you some helpful ideas on how you can help children. How you can have them be a part of your life. How you can help them to fulfill their dreams, goals and lives even if you cannot have your own.

Recently I lost another child and finally put into motion a means that I would not concieve again to avoid the pain. I wanted to have my husbands child so badly that I could almost see him already. I felt that he was almost here and I could reach out and touch him and change my life. It was a boy I know that and it tore me open. I cried for weeks about this and I just want you to know that I truly understand how hard it is. This was not my first loss of a child but this one hurt the most.

I have had my share of trouble conceiving a child and then when I could was not able to carry to term. I made some changes in my lifestyle without the intention of having a baby at that time. I got rid of all the chemicals and animal products and voila ..side effect I was pregnant. I was so excited and happy. Then I found out the truth about what was happening and in the end I kissed my child goodbye and told him through tears that I was so sorry that I couldn’t be the mother that he had chosen.

I dealt with that pain and came out the other end knowing that I am here for another reason. That as much as my whole life i heard things like *Oh my god you will make such a good mom* to *You are so maternal* Why can’t I help children or adopt them and give them a better life? Why can’t I be their teacher and inspiration? Why can’t I help other people who feel like i do? I thought about it for months and came to the conclusion that I could do all and any of these things that I wanted to. The only limitation in place is what you believe there is. You can accomplish so much more than you may even realize.

I think that it is very important to remember that you may not be able to have your own child. But there are millions upon millions that could benefit from the love you hold in your heart for the ones you cannot have. They are just there waiting for you to find them, to lift them up and out of their desperate circumstances. To show them a better world and a kinder heart than they may have seen. So long as your choice is kindness and love towards a lonely or hurt child it is a good one.

These links will be a road that you may choose to go down. Remember while you do that just as you may feel alone and without joy and love, there are many children that feel the same exact way that you do. You hold this amazing gift in your hands and it is called free will. You can choose to gift and uplift and show these young people that they may suffer and that life is difficult but it is also filled with surprising kindnesses and gentle loving people.

http://kids-alliance.org/

http://www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.5301295/k.BE9A/Home.htm

http://www.shiningstarsfoundation.org/how-to-help-1/volunteer/

http://www.ymca.net/volunteer

I try to think what the reasons could be as to why people cannot have children. There are so many it would take a very long time to cover even half of the reasons. But I think that while it is a heartbreaking thing to have to realize there is a reason I believe. We are here to help others. We are here to look at and find children that need us and just help them in any way we can. Mourn your losses and move on it is the best thing you can do for yourself. It may sound harsh but that is the truth. You are here for another potential purpose. Perhaps you are meant to be Father or Mother to the children of the world. Perhaps you were given a gift instead. One that could make a huge difference in the world. Have you considered that? :)

We are all here just floating around and sometimes we see something. We stop and look at it and examine it closely because it speaks to us. Loving other human being that may not be your blood is one of those things that passes by us. We should stop and examine it and see what we can do to help others and in doing so heal ourselves.

http://www.freearts.org/volunteers

http://www.pageahead.org/volunteer.php

I have been amazed at how many things we can do to help children. We could just type in volunteer to help children and find out for yourselves what is out there. What we can do to make a difference in the lives of so many children that lack hope. Because they have been hurt so badly that they find trusting someone difficult. But if this is what you want to do then there is nothing stopping you from helping someone else. Imagine the power that you possess! You could change the life of another human being for the better!

http://www.freethechildren.com/get-involved/

You could volunteer at your local school. See if they need any help and do what you can. If you have medical problems and I know that many of you do then tell them your limitations. Many would be happy to have the help from anyone.  If they cannot work with you then keep trying and see what you might be able to start in your community. There is always some way to help others.

http://www.americaspromise.org/Act/Volunteer.aspx

http://www.abetterchance.org/abetterchance.aspx?pgID=963

http://www.mentoring.org/get_involved/become_a_mentor/volunteer_referral_service

http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962345/k.E123/Volunteer_to_start_something.htm

I am including as many things that I can find that you could go out and do for yourself. Helping others can help to heal your own suffering. That is a proven fact in this world. If you reach out and help another human being you heal a hurt inside of you. These children that you help will not forget you or the things that you do to try and help them. I know you are hurting inside and I understand and this is a way to heal what is ailing you and your heart.  Couples can benefit from this as well. Reach out and take a chance!

 Quiescent Aureate Serpent
© 2013 (COVVHA) Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC.  All rights reserved.

BECOME AN EMAIL MEMBER OF CHILDREN OF VIETNAM VETERANS HEALTH ALLIANCE

YOU WILL RECEIVE A ONCE DAILY EMAIL OF ANY BREAKING AGENT ORANGE NEWS AND RELATED TOPICS IN ADDITION TO ANY COVVHA UPDATES
PLEASE ENTER YOUR EMAIL IN THE BOX BELOW,  A CONFIRMATION LINK WILL BE SENT TO YOUR EMAIL.  YOU MUST OPEN THE EMAIL AND CLICK THE CONFIRMATION LINK TO COMPLETE THE PROCESS.
ENTER YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS:Delivered by FeedBurner

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On October 16, 2011, Kelly L. Derricks (TRUTH TELLER) traveled to New York City where she gave a public speech about Agent Orange after being invited by Millions Against Monsanto to participate in the rally event for World Food Day.  Below is the video recording of that speech.

Kelly has battled severe health issues since she was born that continue today. Some of her illnesses, presumed to be associated with the inter-generational effects of Agent Orange, include but are not limited to the following:

• Chronic kidney disease
• Crohn’s disease
• Addison’s disease
• Congenital adrenal hyperplaysia
• Intersticial cystitis.

*Her complete list of illnesses staggers to 30 different things.

Kelly continues to fight for the Children of Vietnam Veterans as well as Vietnam Veterans and their families. In January of 2012 She Co-Founded The Non-Profit Organization (COVVHA) Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC

Visit The Main Website At WWW.COVVHA.NET

https://www.youtube.com/user/teppnme?feature=watch

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JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!!!

The Perfect stocking stuffer gift that will shine the whole year through!!!
Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance is proud to introduce our new Lapel Pins for purchase

Individual Pins Are Priced At $12.00

Email Us At PMASON@COVVHA.NET To Place Your Orders!!!!

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It is Thanksgiving morning and I am so excited I can’t hardly wait! We are going to Grandma and Grandpa’s for dinner and it is going to be so much fun and oh my, all the yummy food to eat. There are chores to be done before we can leave and every time I look at the clock, it doesn’t look like it has moved at all and it feels like it is taking forever to get through them. My Great aunts and Great uncles will  be there and my cousins will be there, my Uncle Vernon is always so jolly, he makes me laugh.

I take my shower and change into my Sunday best, as we always dress for special dinners like Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it is finally time to leave. I help my mom to carry things to the car and we are on our way. It is a cold November morning, drizzling rain and a little snow too, maybe it will turn into all snow by tomorrow. We get to the house and when we get to the back door, the outer porch windows are steamed up, you can see the little drops of water streaming down the glass. I prepare myself to open the door for that smell. I know when I open the door that I am going to be enveloped in all kinds of good smells. Turkey, dressing ( 2 kinds, oyster and regular for those of us that think that oysters are gross!), pies, mashed potatoes, and so many other things, YUM!!  I was not disappointed when I opened the door when that warm, yummy air hit me right in the face, it was like Heaven. Grandma is in front of the stove and Aunt Katie is by the sink and everyone else is in the dining room, setting the table. I give hugs and run into the living room, where my cousins are and we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade together and talk like we haven’t seen each other in a year. Grandpa had started a fire in the wood burner that morning so it was nice a cozy so I settle in his big red rocker to watch TV til dinner.

It is time to eat. My eyes are as big as my stomach. I don’t know what I want first. We say grace and then dig in, everyone starts to pass the food and it slowly makes its way to the kids table where the 4 of us a relegated to. It is delicious as always. I look around the table and I see my Grandparents, my parents, my brother, my aunt and uncle, my 2 cousins, my 3 Great Aunts, my 2 Great Uncles and my 93 year old Great Grandmother and I truly feel blessed to be there! There is football on the TV, laughter and talking all around the room and the warmth of a family breaking bread together. It is the best Thanksgiving ever and I will never forget it as long as I live!!

That is a glimpse into my childhood, thank you for letting me share it with you. I would have been about 9 when that happened. The Christmases at Grandma and Grandpa’s were just as wonderful. We would gather in the middle room around a beautiful tree to open gifts and be together. I hope that you spend this holiday season with your friends and family. The most important thing in this world is love. We can possess all sorts of material items, we can have all the money that the world can give us, we can even be the most famous people in the world but if there is no love in your life, there is nothing.

If you are in need of something to do to remember one that you have lost in your life, there are things that you can do this holiday season. I have done some of these things as most of the people in this story have passed and I miss them dearly.  It can be a very lonely  and sad time of year for some because they are missing loved ones, whether they have passed, whether they have parted ways for various reasons, you can make a difference in someone’s life. You are never alone.

* You could go to a friend’s or loved one’s house and celebrate with them. It is important that you not isolate at this time of year.

* You could go to a nursing home and “adopt” a grandparent. Some of the people that are in these facilities either don’t have families or they have them and they are dumped there and forgotten about. They are lonely and would love to have the company.

* You could volunteer at a Food Pantry or a Soup Kitchen. I did this my Senior Year in High School. We threw a dinner for the kids at the Domestic Violence Shelter, we had a Santa for them and we made dinner for them and it was one of the best Christmases of my life.

* You could find a church that you are comfortable in and take part  in the activities that they are having. You can meet some wonderful people at the churches and it would be a wonderful way to spend the day.

* You could volunteer at a Veterans Organization. Find a Veterans Home in your area, go to your local VVA chapter, see if the VA has any Volunteer Opportunities.

* You could “adopt” children that don’t have anything and be their Santa. The best Christmas of my life was the year that my mom died. My dad worked with a lady that was married to a minister. She came to me and said that she had these 2 children in her church and they didn’t have anything and was wondering if I might be willing to help them out. They were 10 and 7, what really broke my heart about these 2 children was that the little girl stopped believing in Santa because she asked for a doll for Christmas and it wasn’t there because they didn’t have the money to get it. Between myself, my best friend, my dad, and her grandmother, we got $ 300 together and went and bought them clothes, toys, bath stuff, Krogers donated gift certificates for both kids, we had 6 full size trash bags full of gifts for these kids by the time we were done. Their mom cried when she came to pick the stuff up, my mom was with me that day, it is no less than she would have done!

* If you don’t feel like leaving and being a little more private, you and your family could set a place at the table for your loved one so that they are “still with you,”  kind of like a memorial. We used to do that after my Grandpa passed. It made my Grandmother feel better.

* Turn to a support group, COVVHA, a grief support group in your community, an online support group, etc, so that you have someone that knows how you are feeling and can give you feedback and support. Some of my very best friends have come from online support groups!

So you see, there are things that you can do to get through the holidays so that they aren’t quite so lonely. It is my hope that you have plenty of love and support around you and that you have the love that I had in this wonderful memory to share. The holidays can be a very hard time of year but they don’t have to be. You are never alone and we here at COVVHA wish you the very best that this Holiday season has to offer.  Happy Holidays!

Karen Y. Wengert

 ©Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance

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Dear readers I want you to know that the holiday season is upon us. It comes in many shapes and forms and encompasses the whole of the world. There are many different colors of people and religions and beliefs as a whole. There will be different food and different ways to eat it. There will be themes that we might not think of ourselves. There may be songs we do not normally know or hear being sung in remote parts of this beautiful world that we live in. There will be dances that we do not know and might watch with curiosity.

We may not fully understand all the holidays all over the world. But that is OK. The idea is not to understand all of the differences and traditions that may not make any sense to us at all. The point is that we understand that people all over are sharing the same body that we have and soul and heart and mind and breath. It is important to note that we all hunger for love and companionship and warmth. We all of us desire to get along and find a way to make this world flourish with all of us inside of it. We all hope for a good future for our children and a warm home for them to live in and be safe from harm. We all pray or meditate or think of others in time of need and in times of plenty. We think for a moment of someone we miss because they are no longer here in physical form. We all know that somewhere someone is sad and wants to help. To me these are universal truths that surround us all.

This year I want to share an idea with all of you. This is in my heart and it gives me warmth and comfort and hope. I want all of you to see this world as one living breathing organism. I want you to remember to love and give all year long and forever try to remember the positive. Focus on the joyful moments in your life and try to give to others. There is a giving loving person inside of everyone. Even if you suffer yourself you are not alone. You have family somewhere. They may not share your blood but they share your humanity. They understand the basic needs of each person. So I ask that you remember these unifying truths. I want you to remember that you can do good or you can do harm but the choice is eventually up to you.

For every horrible thing that happens and is shared through the news media remember please..That for every one of those there are plenty of good things happening. Do not allow the world to overwhelm you with the spectacle of the media. Look for the good in the world. Find the stories that give hope and love a chance and succeed. Step away from the stereotypes and harness that light within you and share it with everyone. Do not let the world dim your light inside. Walk away from stereotypes and remember the truths that you see and know in life. Whenever someone makes a joke at the expense of anothers pain do not feed into it.  Help all those that you can and do good.

You are capable even when you feel your worst moment is upon you to help another. Small things can become great big amazing stories to share with your grandchildren and friends.  When you have more give to others. Play with your children and hold your loved ones. Know that around every corner is a potential friend or someone that can teach you many new things. Every single person is put in your path to teach you something. What you take from that experience will be up to you. Someone may come into your life and cause you problems but in doing so they teach you to look for trouble and how to avoid it. How to become stronger and yet deal with things fairly. Or they may be there to teach you patience. But regardless of what they teach you they were put in your path for a reason. Try not to forget that.

This season I want you to recognize that we are all one humanity one consciousness sharing this planet together. Find reasons to come together instead of giving in to things that may tear you apart. Be good to everyone year round and know peace. Know that I am writing this because I love you and I want you to know the same love and hope that I do. Things can get hard but remember there is always something that you can do to make a change for the better. Do not let your emotions tangle you and mislead you. Love love and love some more. Make the world a brighter more loving place.

Q.A.S.

 © Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance

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On Monday November 12, 2012, Kelly L. Derricks and Karen Y. Wengert were please to return to the Organic View Radio Show, hosted by June Stoyer,  for a special Veterans Day feature about Agent Orange and the children of Vietnam Veterans.

Click the player below to hear the show!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theorganicview/2012/11/12/the-children-of-vietnam-veterans-health-alliance

Listen to internet radio with The Organic View on Blog Talk Radio
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One veteran’s story about fighting Agent Orange
Ruben Rosario: Did this veteran’s service cost him his life?
Ken Blum: Focus on Agent Orange before victims are all gone
John Bury: Victims of Agent Orange must band together to push …
Despite knowing Agent Orange, Parkinson’s link some veterans still have …
France May Issue Call for Europe-Wide Ban on GM Corn
Red Fridays – Burn Pits, the new Agent Orange
Genetically Modified Organisms No Answer to Food Shortage
Treatment of veterans is totally disgusting
Federal Judge Dismisses Agent Orange Case in NY
Agent Orange in Okinawa: the Smoking Gun
Prop 37: 8 Reasons for Voting Yes for Labeling GMO Foods
New method of cleaning Passaic River fails test in Lyndhurst
Promise made, promise kept: Son takes father’s fight about Agent …
Agent Orange wrecks future generations’ too?
Corpus Christi Army Depot’s safety history sometimes spotty
Letters: A veteran’s take on his healthcare
After military service, veterans next battle V.A.
Vietnamese, Korean dioxin victims on epic bike trip
Homeland Security is Working for Monsanto
US says to help clear dioxin from Da Nang airport by 2016
War veterans’ children supported by scholarships
Over VND2.5 billion raised for disadvantaged children
Agent Orange consequences to be overcome by 2020
Vietnam Veteran Remembered As Kind, Proud American
SEARCH TIME.COM
US, Vietnam join hands to deal with AO consequences
Agent Orange chemical in GM war on resistant weeds
Agent Orange cleanup effort stirs questions about responsibility
Mag Links Romney To Monsanto
Remember Vietnam,Continuing Birth Defects Caused By Agent …
Massive Attack on GMO Labeling Proposal in California
Monsanto: One of Romney & Bain’s Earliest Clients
Andrew G. Reiter: Questions on efforts to clean up Agent Orange
Oregonians Fear Harmful Effects From Timberland Herbicides
AGENT ORANGE Rainbow Herbicides A Bioforming Pandemic Killing Some …
Feds May Acknowledge Ground Zero Cancer Link
FRA | Legislative Update: Agent Orange Reform
Debate over genetically modified food gets political with Prop. 37
Agent Orange’s shameful legacy
U.S. and Vietnam looking to improve trade relations
American student asks justice for AO victims
Birth defects caused by Agent Orange : WTF
Dow denies succour to Bhopal despite new-found enveronmentalism
Navy veteran says Agent Orange is still a concern
Dow Chemical still blamed for deaths and birth defects and under …
Laos still in the dark on Agent Orange impact
United States and Laos yet to deal with Agent Orange legacy
I look to the positives rather than the ifs or the buts’
United States Embarks On $43 Million Effort to – Birth Defect Lawyer …
Da Nang: 62 people infected with dioxin
VA Harnesses Big Data For Broader Impact
McNair researcher to use Vietnam’s toxic aftermath for realistic theatre
Craig Wehrle: War supporter Grothman should look at birth defects
The Terrible Legacy of Agent Orange
Vietnam forgotten, more than a ‘Lost Generation’
150, 000 Vietnamese children born with birth defects – Agent …
He’s telling the other side of war
Veterans For Peace: U.S. just beginning Agent Orange cleanup in …
Cleaning Agent Orange – Video Library – The New York Times
Behind the front line
The Toxic Effects of Agent Orange Persist 51 Years After the …
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For Immediate Release

Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance
COVVHA@GMAIL.COM
www.Covvha.net

Agent Orange In Ohio

Boardman, OH – October, 13 2012 – Two Generational Victims of Agent Orange who founded the Non-Profit Organization ‘Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance’ will host a meet & greet and educational seminar on October 13th starting at 6pm at Ohio Naturopathic Wellness Center, 755 Boardman-Canfield Rd., Suite D- (Southbridge West), Boardman, OH. Appetizers and beverages will be served, followed by the seminar at 7pm. Please make your reservations at COVVHA@Gmail.com for attendance since seating is limited. The event is free and open to the public and can also be joined through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/COVVHA

Heather A. Bowser (39), Daughter of Bill Morris, of Canfield Ohio and Kelly L. Derricks (37), Daughter of Harry C. Mackel Jr., of Bucks County Pennsylvania are both daughters of deceased Vietnam War Veterans. Each of their father’s were exposed to the deadly herbicide Agent Orange/Dioxin while serving with the United States Military resulting in their untimely deaths.  Heather and Kelly were both born with multiple birth defects and illnesses which they still suffer from Today. In early 2012, after many years of independent advocacy, they came together to form ‘Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance’ a Non-Profit organization seeking justice and providing assistance for the tens of thousands of sons and daughters also suffering from the generational effects of Agent Orange that occurs during the conception of a child.

Karen Y. Wengert (38), Daughter of surviving Vietnam Veteran George Ridgeway, of Newark Ohio, will also be attending the event.  Karen’s mother, Barbara Ridgeway (Dunn), who is now deceased, was a key proponent in starting the area’s local VVA chapter.  At the age of 8, Karen accompanied by her parents on November 11, 1982, stood in attendance at the official opening of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.  As a surviving Vietnam Veteran, Karen’s father now suffers the severe health effects that Agent Orange / Dioxin is known for leaving in its destructive wake.  Recently,  Heather and Kelly were very pleased when Karen graciously accepted the position of Secretary as an Official COVVHA board member.  Karen has worked tirelessly over the last several months, despite her suffering with numerous illnesses, to ensure COVVHA’s ability to reach the 2ND generation victims of Agent Orange.

Nicknamed COVVHA, Kelly and Heather stress four simple words that have reached millions, not just in the American community, but also the international community of those exposed including Vietnam, Australia, Korea, Japan, Guam, and Canada; “You Are NOT Alone.” COVVHA has vowed that no Vietnam Veteran, Child, Grandchild, or those who were exposed to Agent Orange by other circumstances, will ever feel like they are waging the fight for their lives alone. The event which is being hosted by Kelly and Heather on October 13th starting at 6pm at Ohio Naturopathic Wellness Center, 755 Boardman-Canfield Rd., Suite D-(Southbridge West), Boardman, Ohio, Is intended to educate the general public and those exposed about the generational health and medical effects of Agent Orange. They also hope to meet other Sons and Daughters of Vietnam Veterans who may have interest in volunteering any extra time to COVVHA.

Before his Death at the age of 37, Kelly’s father stated, “I know I have a bomb ticking inside of me, I know that bomb is Agent Orange.” Before his death at the age of 50, Heather’s father stated, “If I only knew I was taking my children to war, I would have dodged the draft.”  Please join Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance on Saturday evening, October 13, 2012 to help COVVHA raise awareness.  R.S.V.P. by email at COVVHA@GMAIL.COM  At the conclusion of the evening’s events, A brief memorial tribute will be held in honor of Kelly’s father marking the 30 year anniversary of his death on October 14, 1982.  Kelly was only 7 years old when her father died.  Agent Orange was not just a Vietnam War Era tragedy. In fact, Agent Orange was used globally long before the war began. To people like Kelly and Heather and the millions they fight for, the Vietnam War never ended. The battle ground and weaponry have simply changed.


Visit Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance at their main website www.CovvHa.net 
Support COVVHA’S Facebook Page by clicking the “LIKE” button at https://www.facebook.com/COVVHA
Contact Heather and Kelly by email at COVVHA@GMAIL.COM
 
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We are the children of Vietnam Veterans, the ones left behind, the collateral damage of a war we never signed up for.  Yet today, and everyday, we share our grief world wide with other children, the children of September 11, 2001.

This article is not being written to discuss and or debate the who’s, why’s, and what’s of that day.  It is being written to simply state that WE, the children of Vietnam Veterans and our families, hear you and your families.

We understand your grief, your pain, and your horror.  We understand your questions.  We have asked the same questions.  Why.  The question is always WHY.

Our tragedies did not happen on one day as did yours.  Our tragedies have been occurring for more then 50 years.  Our fathers lay dead and dying because of Agent Orange / Dioxin poisoning.  Now we lay dead and dying.  Regardless, it is a tragedy that we suffer together.

When people ask me the same question that has been haunting Americans for 11 years, “What do you think happened that day”, I reply with the same answer each time; “My opinion does not matter.  What matters is that there are now thousands of children growing up without a father or a parent.  Children just like me.  Children that we at COVVHA have founded our principles on standing up for.  My father died when I was 7 years old and I would never wish that grief upon anyone that walks this earth.”

Whether it be the Vietnam War, Agent Orange Dioxin, or September 11, 2001, it is a shared grief.  No, it is not the grief of America, it is indeed the grief of the world.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”
Washington Irving

© Kelly L. Derricks

Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance

 

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A collection of several recent articles in the news relating to Agent Orange and Dioxin

Vietnamese AO victims to get free check-ups in Korea

We thought VA was VA, and it isn’t’Widow reflects on veteran’s illnesses and death

Vietnam Joins Protest Against Dow Chemicals

Phil Kraft: Ongoing service defines Vietnam vet’s patriotism

Guest view: The war that never ends

Vietnamese AO victims association visits Laos

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association Announces Free Documents Library

Common farm chemical has impact for generations

Agent Orange ‘tested in Okinawa’

U.S. Veteran Exposes Pentagon’s Denials of Agent Orange Use on Okinawa

Writers Center hosts veterans’ poetry project

Veterans for Veterans

Vietnam to use advanced technology to clear dioxin contamination

What new 2,4-D-resistant crops mean – going backwards

Teachers for disabled underpaid, overworked

Vietnam veterans still struggle with service-related health problems

Agent Orange at base in ’80s: U.S. vet Nearby residents of Futenma possibly tainted by leaking barrels

Children in US Warzones

 

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Listen To the Archived Broadcast Now

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theorganicview/2012/05/24/children-of-vietnam-veterans-those-exposed-to-agent-orange/scrub/0

The Children of Vietnam Veterans and Those Exposed To Agent Orange & Dioxin is an organization founded by children of Vietnam Veterans dedicated to finding justice, finding answers and offering support for the generational victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin. This is the first group of its kind because it was founded by children of Vietnam Veterans who desperately want our peers to no longer feel alone. They acknowledge the vast amount of people around the globe who have come into contact with Agent Orange such as Americans, Australians, Vietnamese, Koreans, Canadians, Japanese, People of Guam and many more.  Because the generational victims are rarely recognized, COVVHA seeks to collectively bring about change and make the voices of those affected heard.

Kelly L. Derricks is the daughter of deceased Vietnam Veteran Harry C. Mackel, Jr.  Harry died in 1982 at the age of 37 after being exposed to Agent Orange while serving two tours in Vietnam in addition to a tour on Johnston Island. After serving with the United States Air Force, Harry went on to serve the City of Philadelphia as a highly regarded and awarded officer of the Stakeout Unit with the police department. Kelly was only seven years old when her father died.

Kelly has been working as an independent Agent Orange/Dioxin advocate since early 2007.  She has expanded her work under the name “Truth Teller” to legislative areas, environment and agriculture, public speaking, blog authoring, and medical awareness, while tying everything back to encompass her main platform of seeking justice for those exposed.

Kelly’s COVVHA partner Heather A. Bowser,  is also an Agent Orange activist.  Heather was born with multiple birth defects due to her father’s exposure, as a US solider during the Vietnam War, to the chemical defoliant, Agent Orange. Heather was born in 1972, two months premature; she weighed three pounds, four ounces. Heather is missing her right leg below the knee, several of her fingers, her big toe on her left foot, her remaining toes were webbed.

Heather started her activism early in her life along side her parents in the late 1970’s. As a young child, she had a passion to explain what the chemical Agent Orange had done to her family. Like how Mother Sharon, suffered three unexplained miscarriages and her Father had five bypasses at the age of thirty eight and died of a massive heart attack at age fifty.

As former high school teacher, and current mental health licensed professional, Heather uses her skills to reach out and educate others on the devastation that is Agent Orange. Heather has a strong belief in empowering all second and third generations of Agent Orange survivors, to use their voice when possible to speak out and tell others about Agent Orange. Heather’s wish is all Agent Orange survivors will find justice.

In this segment of The Organic View Radio Show on Thursday May 24,2012 at 4p.m. EST, host, June Stoyer talks to Kelly L. Derricks and her COVVHA partner Heather A. Bowser.  Join in and Stay tuned at the link below!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theorganicview/2012/05/24/children-of-vietnam-veterans-those-exposed-to-agent-orange/scrub/0

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What my father could never tell me: The Vietnam Interview
  

My father and I have *never* had a good relationship. I’ve spent the better part of a lifetime trying to figure out why he was the way he was—impatient, temperamental, moody, and the tendency to go from 0-360 in seconds—especially when it involved me. Out of myself and two brothers for some reason it was my father and I that could instantly ignite an inferno. Over the years mistakes have been made, a lot of hurt has piled up in dark, dank places. Although in recent years we have begun to heal old wounds, one word was always persisted in the back of my mind: Vietnam. I’ve always wondered whether his behavior and our tendency to spontaneously combust had anything to do with that. This “tough it out, don’t cry, be strong” mentality he instilled in me. This weird way he would startle easily and get agitated over the smallest things. Things I thought were of no consequence, stupid stuff. Something always seemed amiss. I used my time at Northern Arizona University to not only take a Chicano History course to understand my culture and his years as a child, but I also took a few courses about Vietnam—the politics of the war, as well as the social side—the side experienced by the soldiers, their families, how the media portrayed the war, and how the people of our nation reacted to the war and to the men and women who selflessly served during one of the worst campaigns in recent history.

I came away with a new understanding of the Vietnam experience, the politics behind it, as well as how expertly the media here in the states twisted and turned and refashioned the war for the American public to see and read. I learned about the lasting effects of the war on the veterans, and how poorly they were received when they came home from their tours. I speak often of the Vietnam veterans I have encountered as a nurse and on the streets—the ones that continue to wander, stuck in time, and forgotten—their minds left back in a place they can no longer get to. I’ve said more than once how much it infuriates me that we failed these men and women and how much I want to make up for that in my own way. My ultimate goal as a nurse “WAS” to use my Adult NP as a means to open my own heart failure clinic and a free health clinic for veterans. Obviously there has been a big AXE taken to those plans so I am going to find another way to do my part as a way of making up at least a small part of what we did not give these vets when they stepped off the planes for the first time…battle weary, broken, confused, tired, displaced, and sick with memories that they would live with forever.

Despite the classes, the books, the documentaries, the stories relayed to me by numerous patients over the years I still felt there was a piece missing with regard to my father, my understanding of him, and why our relationship was always so difficult, discombobulated, and disconnected. I needed his story. I needed his memories. I needed to understand what happened to him over there….what he experienced, heard, felt, smelled, saw…..He never would talk to me about Vietnam. In fact, when I was younger my mom told me that one day he had gathered up a box of memorabilia from his tour of duty, went to my grandparent’s house and proceeded to dump it all in a big metal drum in the alley– setting fire to all of it. His efforts were in vain….burning it did not make anything leave his mind.  My mother shared with me  that I am the only one of us kids that has persisted over the years in studying the war and trying to learn more from my father. Call it my own little mission I guess. But, I felt I had missed out on a part of who my father was—the part that the war took from him and took from me as his daughter.

In 2009 the Voces Oral History Project was started at the University of Texas. Its purpose was to “foster a greater awareness of the contributions of Latinos and Latinas who served in World War II and Vietnam.” In World War II approximately 250,000-750,000 Latinos and Latinas served in all areas of the military. The Project has actually been gathering data and stories since 1999 having compiled “850 interviews with men and women, thousands of photos, publishing three books on the subject, and increasing awareness via numerous exhibits.” My father was one of eight Vietnam veterans selected from Arizona to be interviewed so that he could share his memories…among them the day he got summoned for duty, the night he walked off the big transport plane to their base camp—magazine loaded and weapon ready to fire (there was conflict right from the start) and numerous other experiences.There were three segments in the video: Life story, enlisting and battle, coming home and readjusting/rebuilding a life. Each veteran was asked to share something they had learned in life, something to pass on to anyone who viewed his/her story.

I didn’t know this video existed until I asked my mom for any pictures remaining from Vietnam that I could use for my ongoing research. In the process she found this video, dated August 16, 2010. She said that there was only one segment on it and was disappointed that no more videos came so they could watch the whole interview. I was skeptical about this, thinking to myself that they probably didn’t fast forward far enough…..fortunately, I was right. She went out to the backyard,  DVD in hand, and I watched her ask my father if I could view it. I saw his jaw tense, watched him toss the hose he was using to water the flowerbeds to the ground, shaking his head, hands on his hips. Then there was the familiar stance when he gets irritated, arms folded, pursed lips. I watched my mom motioning with her hands and I knew she was pleading my case. He quickly nodded his head and turned his back to her, picking up the garden hose again. I had my mom’s blessing—at least.

I was unsure about watching this video, perhaps scared about what I would learn or discover about my father and his experiences. This knowledge, this last piece of the puzzle between he and I—had been years in the making.I took the incidental discovery of the DVD by my mom as a sign that it was time to close the circle so the healing could continue between my father and I. Before my dad could change his mind I tucked the DVD away in my purse, hugged my mom goodbye, and headed home with racing thoughts and some hope that this might be what would help me see my father in a whole new perspective and what my place was as his daughter, his first born.

After picking up some dinner for me and Anaya I popped in the DVD, we settled onto the couch to eat, and clicked “play.” I was in no way prepared for what I would see, or what I would hear from my dad, or how I would become profoundly affected by his recollection of events. To say the experience of watching him on the television screen, his nervous body language, his discomfort with some of the questions, his fidgeting….and at times, the obvious efforts to hold back emotion was difficult is putting it lightly.

I was fascinated to hear about our family history, his days growing up, the political unrest of living in the barrio and the segregation of blacks, Hispanics, and whites, as well as how he assimilated into a mixed high school learning how to speak English so he could learn more. I learned his goal was to be a business mogul someday….Vietnam was the “someday” that arrived first….forever altering the determined path he had set for himself so he could get out of the poverty ridden barrios of South Phoenix. He had finished just one year at Phoenix College.

My father’s journey to Vietnam actually came by chance. Although he was drafted and enlisted, he didn’t mind going. He wanted to be part of something important for his country and felt going to fight was the “right thing to do.” He felt he would regret not doing his part as an American—and that if he did not serve and “do the right thing” he would live with regret and shame for not doing so. He was actually slated to go to Germany after basic training…but at the last minute, his orders changed. He was sent to Fort Benning to go through “jungle training” and would be deployed to Vietnam shortly thereafter. This is where the second and most difficult segment of the video begins. My father relays the one quote he remembers from the “pep talk” given to them before they boarded the big military plane bound for Vietnam: “Some of you will not make it back.” It was the moment everything became “real.”

I learned about the experiences he was “willing” to discuss—the racial tension in the tents, the frequent fighting, times he had been injured, escaped death, was pinned down in a bunker at night under fire while he was doing his night “guard shift.” He described, with swallowed emotion, the death of his best friend who was shot in the head. When asked what event stuck with him the most, he became silent, looking downward. With a deep breath he tells of an attack on a nearby major weapons depot at 0400, waking him up out of sleep. The depot was stocked with massive amounts of artillery, bombs, rockets—everything. With vivid recollection he paints the scene: The sky lighting up in fire. The confusion of his unit as they struggled to get their flak jackets and weapons loaded.  When the Vietnamese blew up the depot, many were killed and they had to take cover for days because bombs and other devices were continuing to be set off by the initial bombing and flames. On one of those days, my dad had decided to take a peak outside his tent because it had quieted down…as he did so, a short distance away he remembers seeing a “miniature atomic bomb” go off, the sound louder than anything he could ever describe. He felt the earth beneath his feet shaking violently, and how the earth seemed to shake with more violence as the effects of the bomb got nearer to their base camp. He was caught up in this explosion, along with the entire basecamp—and was injured. With carefully measured words he recalled seeing the bombing of the depot, the bomb going off a short distance outside his tent, and being a part of this massive explosion as the event that impacted him the most. Afew days after his return to the states he would learn that his base camp was overrun, the VC had dug tunnels underneath it, killing all of his remaining comrades.  

An especially  moving part of my father’s story was the experience of realizing his tour was up… the few short days before he was to return to the United States. He described his level of anticipation, his relief, and his elation at the prospect of leaving Vietnam….of SURVIVING what many of his brothers did not. His recollection of seeing the Pan Am airliner for the first time was the most poignant. He relays, in vivid detail how he and his comrades cheered as the plane came into view, landing, to take them home. He also smiles as he recalls the cheers of all the men on the plane as the airliner took to the air. But he also felt a twinge of guilt as he caught a view of a military plane that had just landed and was unloading fresh troops to begin their tours. The stewardesses, the “American Women” were a “beautiful sight for sore eyes.” What the battle fatigued and traumatized soldiers were not prepared for was the unsavory welcoming they would receive when they landed in the states…a place they used to know as “home.” In Vietnam, the soldiers were never clued into the political climate in the states. They had no idea that there were protests, or ugly pictures painted on TV screens and magazine covers all over the country portraying their “supposed” activities. They had no warning. Their much dreamed about first steps off the plane on their home soil…were met with signs of protest and crowds yelling “murderers and baby killers.” The feelings of rejection and betrayal, he says, were overwhelming.   My father marks those moments as the “beginning of knowing I was never going to be the same person I used to be, that I might not ever fit in here ever again, that I might not ever be able to connect like I used to.”  “The war took something from me, I was never the same.” After being met at Sky Harbor airport with a much more loving reception than his previous landing in San Francisco, my father went home with his family. In the first few days home he recalls noticing a very “loud” feeling of being “numb and totally disconnected from everything and everyone.” There was the constant question of “Now what?” My father also discusses (rather cautiously) his struggles with PTSD, how it’s affected him, his family,  thinking that it started the day of the bomb and never left him.

Of the entire three hour interview, these were some of the most emotional stories/memories. What I was not expecting, what brought me to tears, were the last ten minutes of the video when he talked about me. His daughter. He said things about me, about my life, my accomplishments, his overwhelming pride about watching me get off of welfare, raise my daughter alone, while getting both a Bachelors and Master’s degree. At one point, he swallows his emotions and struggles to talk. As I hear these words I am overcome with emotion and begin sobbing. He has never said these things to me; he has never said these things about me in my presence. This moment is the first time I have heard my father talk about how he really feels about the person I am, the mother I am, and how proud he is of me as his child.

The ending of the video follows shortly thereafter…and the irony of his last statement comes at a devastating and life altering time in my own life.  The interviewer asks my dad to share something he learned by his experiences in Vietnam and coming home and having to rebuild his life again:

He responds:

“ I think anybody watching this video should remember to do what feels right, if you know what the right thing to do is, do it…because those choices become part of you, part of your life forever…”   

 He wipes away a single tear and grows quiet as the camera remains on him.  A  faraway look comes over his face as he stares quietly past the camera.

The television screen goes black.

Tears run down my face…Naya sits in silence holding my hand.

Now I understand it all…

http://nurseinterupted.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/what-my-father-could-never-tell-me-the-vietnam-interview/

©NURSEINTERUPTED

Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance

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It never ends. Agent Orange destroys every aspect of life that one person can have. I was told once “Kelly, I’m sorry, but your Father never had a chance.” He died only one month after turning 37 in 1982. I was the 7 year old little girl he left behind. It appears to me now that I never had a chance either.

Recently, a sophomore from University of Oregon was interviewing me about Agent Orange for her term paper asked one final question, “What aspect of your childhood did Agent Orange have the most impact?” Followed by,  if I was uncomfortable answering I did not have to. That statement has been made hundreds of times to me. I always answer the questions. Immediately, I had a flash of a memory that would form my answer to her, a memory that I think until last Friday only 3 people knew of. “My Father died when I was in second grade, one day on the bus going home from school, a girl named Rachel W. started arguing with me about something stupid. As the bus began to make its turn to my stop, I began moving to the front so that I could get off and run. I did not know at that point that in the 10 seconds to follow that turn, I would want to run for my life and never stop. The last words that came from Rachel’s mouth that would pierce my eardrums for the rest of my life were, “Hey Kelly, at least I still have a father.” So, I said to the college student “in every way shape and form of my childhood, my father’s death was what impacted me the most in regards to Agent Orange.” It did not just impact my childhood though, Agent Orange and the resulting death of my father has impacted every aspect of my entire life. Every choice, every decision, every twist, every turn, every illness, every fear, every tear, every relationship, or should I just say, there’s NOTHING, NOT ONE MOMENT, of my life that hasn’t been impacted by Agent Orange and the death of my father.

I’m tired, I’m angry, I’m sick, I’m 38. I’m fighting a war every day that, to most, ended decades ago.  Long after the protests, ignorance, boots on the ground, and clearing of jungles have ended, we are still fighting the Vietnam War.  Agent Orange, the chemical war that has never ended. Agent Orange, the defoliant used to clear the jungles of Vietnam so our soldiers could have an “advantage” over the “enemy”. Agent Orange, the Dioxin ridden carcinogen as lethal as radioactive waste in the bodies of our soldiers, in the bodies of their children, in the bodies of their children’s children, in my body.

In my father’s obituary, it is written and quoted that my father, Harry C. Mackel Jr., said he felt like he had a bomb ticking inside of him. He knew the bomb was Agent Orange. He knew. I know. We all know. Millions of us know all over the world and yet, until the United States Government actually comes out and publicly states that THEY KNEW, we will continue spinning on this never ending hamster wheel of life. The life of Agent Orange.

I will never stop fighting for the millions of us that are sick and dying because of Agent Orange and Dioxin exposures, the Veterans, the children like me, and the innocent all over this world who have been effected by this nightmare. Agent Orange is a colorless, silent, ruthless killer. Agent Orange is by every definition of the word, a murderer, a serial killer.  In essence, those of us still living are walking crime scenes.

I may still be a walking, breathing human being but, Agent Orange murdered me on October 14, 1982. The same date it murdered my father.

 © Kelly L. Derricks

(COVVHA) Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC.

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Dear Dad,

Fourteen years and counting, fourteen years of missing, fourteen years of living, fourteen years of remembering, and fourteen years of forgetting. Where are you? Can you see me? If I try really hard I can see your smile. I can hear your voice, your laugh…

What is it like there? Are you asleep? Can you reach out? Answer me please. I call out to you at times. You are my Father, a girl needs her Father, Damn it. “A GIRL NEEDS HER FATHER! “ Why did you leave? Where did you go? Am I supposed to believe you floated away to a place in the sky? Am I supposed to believe you’ve come back as a house cat, or a frog, or a pigeon? I know what I’ve been told all this time, I just want to know what you know. Feel free to tell me at anytime.

After fourteen years, do you remember me? Do you remember to think of me? Can you watch from where you are? Do you see my heart? Do you know the pain I feel? The hole is still here, no one can fill it, ever. I’ve tried to move on, but I fall into the hole when I least expect it, and there I am, missing you again. Where are you Dad?

In my being, I have come to accept many things. I have to live, live for real, live full tilt, because I don’t know when it will be over and I will leave a hole in my family. I have to let go and not hold on, because the things I thought would always be permanent, just crumble away. Why did you have to go? Good guys never win. That’s only in movies.

Fourteen years of fighting the Veterans Administration. Good guys, NEVER, win Dad. They took you away with their lies and cover-ups. They allowed you die. They left you behind. They turned their back. They turn their back on me too. On all of the Guy’s kids, Dad, they still do not care. Some things never change. They are allowing us to die, they are leaving us behind. Not all of them are as strong as me, many have died already. I NEED YOU TO FIGHT FOR US DAD, but you are not here. Where are you? Why did they make you go away?

There are times I see you in my sons, their passions mirror your passions. I see you in my relationships. I see you in the opportunities I have had. I see you in the choices I’ve made. I see you in my bravery. I see you in my fears. I see you in my anxiety. I see you in photographs and in my own aging face. I see you in my humor and my mind’s eye. You are everywhere, but nowhere… I listen for your laugh.

Your Loving Daughter,
Heather Anne

William A. “Bill” Morris
July 16, 1947- March, 11, 1998

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Dear Dad,

Fourteen years and counting, fourteen years of missing, fourteen years of living, fourteen years of remembering, and fourteen years of forgetting. Where are you? Can you see me? If I try really hard I can see your smile. I can hear your voice, your laugh…

What is it like there? Are you asleep? Can you reach out? Answer me please. I call out to you at times. You are my Father, a girl needs her Father, Damn it. “A GIRL NEEDS HER FATHER! “ Why did you leave? Where did you go? Am I supposed to believe you floated away to a place in the sky? Am I supposed to believe you’ve come back as a house cat, or a frog, or a pigeon? I know what I’ve been told all this time, I just want to know what you know. Feel free to tell me at anytime.

After fourteen years, do you remember me? Do you remember to think of me? Can you watch from where you are? Do you see my heart? Do you know the pain I feel? The hole is still here, no one can fill it, ever. I’ve tried to move on, but I fall into the hole when I least expect it, and there I am, missing you again. Where are you Dad?

In my being, I have come to accept many things. I have to live, live for real, live full tilt, because I don’t know when it will be over and I will leave a hole in my family. I have to let go and not hold on, because the things I thought would always be permanent, just crumble away. Why did you have to go? Good guys never win. That’s only in movies.

Fourteen years of fighting the Veterans Administration. Good guys, NEVER, win Dad. They took you away with their lies and cover-ups. They allowed you die. They left you behind. They turned their back. They turn their back on me too. On all of the Guy’s kids, Dad, they still do not care. Some things never change. They are allowing us to die, they are leaving us behind. Not all of them are as strong as me, many have died already. I NEED YOU TO FIGHT FOR US DAD, but you are not here. Where are you? Why did they make you go away?

There are times I see you in my sons, their passions mirror your passions. I see you in my relationships. I see you in the opportunities I have had. I see you in the choices I’ve made. I see you in my bravery. I see you in my fears. I see you in my anxiety. I see you in photographs and in my own aging face. I see you in my humor and my mind’s eye. You are everywhere, but nowhere… I listen for your laugh.

Your Loving Daughter,
Heather Anne

William A. “Bill” Morris
July 16, 1947- March, 11, 1998

www.COVVHA.net
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(C) James J Alonzo

Recently my nephew Doug told me a man named Dwayne died. Dwayne was a part of his life. This man was his mother’s boyfriend for many years, then they (his mother and boyfriend) finally split. To my nephew the man was a cruel man.
He said to me,

“Dwayne died,” Doug said very softly, “Because I hated him all this time, I should feel happy, but actually I feel a little sad.“  “You feel sad,” I said, ” because Dwayne, good or bad, was a part of your past. When a part of your past dies, there is a loss, because that person was a part of you, whether you liked him, loved him, or not. You will even mourn in a strange way. Regardless of how you feel or how he treated you, he was a contributor, of what makes you who you are now.”
I should not care,” Doug said.

“When a person of your past dies,” I said, ” whether he be a friend, foe, parent, sibling, or some connection to your past, the world changes in a heartbeat. Oftentimes when such a loss occurs, others fail to recognize that the surviving person faces emotional battles on many fronts while working through the death. Largely ignored, survivors of the past are often referred to as the “forgotten mourners.”

Within this group of survivors is one that is unique—the adult survivor who lives away from home and is mourning the death of person of their past. In the case of an adult survivor, attention and words of comfort are usually aimed at the parents, spouse, and children, and siblings, not the survivors, who may have been out of touch with the deceased.

The Loss of History
Each family has its own special history and the shared bonds that are a part of that history. When a sibling dies, the bonds are shattered, and the history forever has a void that cannot be filled.
As they grow, children develop certain characteristics and talents. Brothers and sisters tend to complement each other by developing a balance of interests in different areas. However, surviving siblings will need to redefine their roles in the absence of this relationship.

The Loss of Future
When a sibling dies, all future special occasions will be forever changed. There will be no more shared birthday celebrations, anniversaries, or holidays. There will be no telephone calls telling of the birth of a new nephew or niece. The sharing of life’s unique and special events will never again take place.

What Adult Siblings May Expect
Survivor guilt is normal. Siblings usually have a relationship where they seek to protect each other. Despite the physical distance that may separate them as adults, this need to have provided protection weighs heavily in the aftermath of the loss.

Guilt about how the relationship was maintained is common. So often as adults, the sibling relationship has changed from younger years.. Each travels a separate path, and sometimes communication is lacking and ambivalent feelings about maintaining the relationship surface. No matter how good a relationship may have been, the survivor often believes it should have been better, causing guilt.

Anger over a new role within the family often occurs. A surviving sibling may now be the one expected to care for aging parents, and he or she may have to step into the role of guardian for nieces and nephews. Remaining family members may look to surviving siblings for guidance. All these situations are possible reasons to feel anger over a sibling’s death.

Fear of mortality
When a brother or sister dies, it is natural for the surviving sibling or siblings to look at their own lives and question how many years they have left, and what their deaths would do to their family. Surviving siblings may find positive changes within their lives. These may include greater emotional strength, increased independence, and a soul-searching reexamination of religious beliefs. Some survivors feel the need to make a change in their life’s work, such as becoming a therapist, or working to effect a change in the area that took the life of the sibling.

Even when a sibling has died, a connection still remains. Surviving brothers and sisters think about them; talk about them; remember them at special times such as birthdays, holidays, and death dates; and may create a memorial of some type. This connection with the sibling who died does not have to be given up to move forward in life.

Siblings may be ambivalent about their relationships in life, but in death the power of their bond strangles the surviving heart. Death reminds us that we are part of the same river, the same flow from the same source, rushing towards the same destiny. Were you close? Yes, but we didn’t know it then.

Understanding from Others
Society often encourages bereaved individuals to feel guilty for grieving too long. This failure to receive validation of their grief can cause siblings to hide their feelings, causing a type of depression with which they may struggle for many years. If the surviving sibling is married, stress may also be introduced into the spousal relationship. Individuals grieve differently, and the spouse may be bewildered and even unsympathetic that this loss is causing so much sorrow in their own family. This situation may provoke comments such as,

“Why are you so upset? You haven’t been close to your family for years.” While this may sound reasonable, the emotions of grief and mourning are seldom reasonable—or even rational. Spouses may need to be told how they can be supportive. One woman simply asked her husband for a hug whenever she felt especially sad about the death of her sister.

Senior Citizens Who Lose a Sibling
When the sibling of a senior citizen dies, often those around this person feel that it is more normal for people to die as they age, and so there is no need to provide comfort or even acknowledge the death. In reality, whether the sibling who died is nine or ninety, the loss still wounds the heart. Oftentimes with senior citizen grief, the death of a sibling is compounded by the fact that the spouse and others important to them in their lives have preceded the sibling in death, leaving a void for feedback, comfort, and remembrance. One’s own mortality is often questioned.

Finding Support
Many siblings find help by talking with others about their brother or sister. However, even good friends can quickly become uncomfortable with the subject, often at just the point when their support is most needed. Often, simply finding another bereaved sibling with whom to share concerns and feelings provides a path toward healing. Adult siblings may be living in areas where no one knew their deceased brother or sister—or even of their existence. This can be painful at a time when the surviving sibling longs to share memories.

When Parents (or parental figure) Dies
When your parents die, it is said you lose your past; when your spouse dies, you lose your present; and when your child dies, you lose your future. However, when your sibling dies, you lose a part of your past, your present, and your future. Because of this tremendous loss, it is important that everyone work together to ease the path toward healing.

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Recently my nephew Doug told me a man named Dwayne died. Dwayne was a part of his life. This man was his mother’s boyfriend for many years, then they (his mother and boyfriend) finally split. To my nephew the man was a cruel man.

He said to me,

“Dwayne died,” Doug said very softly, “Because I hated him all this time, I should feel happy, but actually I feel a little sad.“  “You feel sad,” I said, ” because Dwayne, good or bad, was a part of your past. When a part of your past dies, there is a loss, because that person was a part of you, whether you liked him, loved him, or not. You will even mourn in a strange way. Regardless of how you feel or how he treated you, he was a contributor, of what makes you who you are now.”
I should not care,” Doug said.

“When a person of your past dies,” I said, ” whether he be a friend, foe, parent, sibling, or some connection to your past, the world changes in a heartbeat. Oftentimes when such a loss occurs, others fail to recognize that the surviving person faces emotional battles on many fronts while working through the death. Largely ignored, survivors of the past are often referred to as the “forgotten mourners.”

Within this group of survivors is one that is unique—the adult survivor who lives away from home and is mourning the death of person of their past. In the case of an adult survivor, attention and words of comfort are usually aimed at the parents, spouse, and children, and siblings, not the survivors, who may have been out of touch with the deceased.

The Loss of History
Each family has its own special history and the shared bonds that are a part of that history. When a sibling dies, the bonds are shattered, and the history forever has a void that cannot be filled.
As they grow, children develop certain characteristics and talents. Brothers and sisters tend to complement each other by developing a balance of interests in different areas. However, surviving siblings will need to redefine their roles in the absence of this relationship.

The Loss of Future
When a sibling dies, all future special occasions will be forever changed. There will be no more shared birthday celebrations, anniversaries, or holidays. There will be no telephone calls telling of the birth of a new nephew or niece. The sharing of life’s unique and special events will never again take place.

What Adult Siblings May Expect
Survivor guilt is normal. Siblings usually have a relationship where they seek to protect each other. Despite the physical distance that may separate them as adults, this need to have provided protection weighs heavily in the aftermath of the loss.

Guilt about how the relationship was maintained is common. So often as adults, the sibling relationship has changed from younger years.. Each travels a separate path, and sometimes communication is lacking and ambivalent feelings about maintaining the relationship surface. No matter how good a relationship may have been, the survivor often believes it should have been better, causing guilt.

Anger over a new role within the family often occurs. A surviving sibling may now be the one expected to care for aging parents, and he or she may have to step into the role of guardian for nieces and nephews. Remaining family members may look to surviving siblings for guidance. All these situations are possible reasons to feel anger over a sibling’s death.

Fear of mortality
When a brother or sister dies, it is natural for the surviving sibling or siblings to look at their own lives and question how many years they have left, and what their deaths would do to their family. Surviving siblings may find positive changes within their lives. These may include greater emotional strength, increased independence, and a soul-searching reexamination of religious beliefs. Some survivors feel the need to make a change in their life’s work, such as becoming a therapist, or working to effect a change in the area that took the life of the sibling.

Even when a sibling has died, a connection still remains. Surviving brothers and sisters think about them; talk about them; remember them at special times such as birthdays, holidays, and death dates; and may create a memorial of some type. This connection with the sibling who died does not have to be given up to move forward in life.

Siblings may be ambivalent about their relationships in life, but in death the power of their bond strangles the surviving heart. Death reminds us that we are part of the same river, the same flow from the same source, rushing towards the same destiny. Were you close? Yes, but we didn’t know it then.

Understanding from Others
Society often encourages bereaved individuals to feel guilty for grieving too long. This failure to receive validation of their grief can cause siblings to hide their feelings, causing a type of depression with which they may struggle for many years. If the surviving sibling is married, stress may also be introduced into the spousal relationship. Individuals grieve differently, and the spouse may be bewildered and even unsympathetic that this loss is causing so much sorrow in their own family. This situation may provoke comments such as,

“Why are you so upset? You haven’t been close to your family for years.” While this may sound reasonable, the emotions of grief and mourning are seldom reasonable—or even rational. Spouses may need to be told how they can be supportive. One woman simply asked her husband for a hug whenever she felt especially sad about the death of her sister.

Senior Citizens Who Lose a Sibling
When the sibling of a senior citizen dies, often those around this person feel that it is more normal for people to die as they age, and so there is no need to provide comfort or even acknowledge the death. In reality, whether the sibling who died is nine or ninety, the loss still wounds the heart. Oftentimes with senior citizen grief, the death of a sibling is compounded by the fact that the spouse and others important to them in their lives have preceded the sibling in death, leaving a void for feedback, comfort, and remembrance. One’s own mortality is often questioned.

Finding Support
Many siblings find help by talking with others about their brother or sister. However, even good friends can quickly become uncomfortable with the subject, often at just the point when their support is most needed. Often, simply finding another bereaved sibling with whom to share concerns and feelings provides a path toward healing. Adult siblings may be living in areas where no one knew their deceased brother or sister—or even of their existence. This can be painful at a time when the surviving sibling longs to share memories.

When Parents (or parental figure) Dies
When your parents die, it is said you lose your past; when your spouse dies, you lose your present; and when your child dies, you lose your future. However, when your sibling dies, you lose a part of your past, your present, and your future. Because of this tremendous loss, it is important that everyone work together to ease the path toward healing.

 

 © James J Alonzo

Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance

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I AM THE LIVING LEGACY OF AGENT ORANGE. 
THE PRODUCT OF MY FATHER’S TOURS IN VIETNAM 
WHILE SERVING WITH THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE 
WHICH ENDED UP KILLING HIM WHEN I WAS 7 YEARS OLD, 
AND NOW IT IS KILLING ME.

I AM PROUD OF MY FATHER AND EVERYTHING HE STOOD 
FOR. MY FATHER MAY NOT HAVE DIED IN VIETNAM BUT HE 
WAS CERTAINLY ISSUED HIS DEATH SENTENCE THERE. 

I LIVE EVERY DAY HOPING THAT HE WOULD BE PROUD 
OF THE WOMAN I AM AND THE PERSON THAT I HAVE YET 
TO BECOME.
“If the only place where I could see you was in my dreams, I’d sleep forever.”
 Unknown

My God, it’s hard. Working day in and day out to conquer a war that never really did end. It’s just a different battle now. I stand on the front lines every second of my life fighting Agent Orange. My weaponry is not made of armor or gun powder. It is made up of countless medications and doctors that are keeping me alive. It is made up of this damn laptop computer that sits on top of me up to 15 hours a day allowing me to fight harder and stronger for all of the people that need my tiny military.

Most days, I’m like a robot. Wake up, take my pills, work for hours, take my next set of pills, eat dinner, and then work for several more hours, then take my bedtime pills, and finally, go to sleep, exhausted. I hold in the emotion that wants to take over and pour out on the good days. Only a select group of people can get me through the bad ones, and it’s a very limited select group of people.

Some days, I want to throw my hands up in the air and give up. Most days, I ask myself why I’m waging this war. EVERY DAY, I think about my Father. He had only been 37 for one month when he died, I had only been 7 for six months. I ache for him. People think its abnormal of me to still be grieving 29 years later. Those people have no clue what it’s like to lose a parent at such a young age and so tragically. They have no clue of the scars that were formed as a seven year old not having a Daddy. They just have no clue about anything really.

I realized that I don’t do this work for me. Yes, I am directly effected by Agent Orange and Dioxin exposure, but I have come to terms with my life. I do this work for everyone else, it needs to be done and I am able to do it. I do it for my Father, a man that spent the first half of his life serving his country, and because of that, he never got to live the second half.

Today is Thanksgiving. The official start of the holiday season. The official start of a time when my daily grief turns into utter sorrow. The Christmas lights and decorations in all their glory break me down to the little girl that I never really had the chance to be. I was in fact, the little girl lost.

God help me get through it again this year.
Kelly L. Derricks
© Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance
www.COVVHA.net
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I AM THE LIVING LEGACY OF AGENT ORANGE. 
THE PRODUCT OF MY FATHER’S TOURS IN VIETNAM 
WHILE SERVING WITH THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE 
WHICH ENDED UP KILLING HIM WHEN I WAS 7 YEARS OLD, 
AND NOW IT IS KILLING ME.

I AM PROUD OF MY FATHER AND EVERYTHING HE STOOD 
FOR. MY FATHER MAY NOT HAVE DIED IN VIETNAM BUT HE 
WAS CERTAINLY ISSUED HIS DEATH SENTENCE THERE. 

I LIVE EVERY DAY HOPING THAT HE WOULD BE PROUD 
OF THE WOMAN I AM AND THE PERSON THAT I HAVE YET 
TO BECOME.
“If the only place where I could see you was in my dreams, I’d sleep forever.”
 Unknown

My God, it’s hard. Working day in and day out to conquer a war that never really did end. It’s just a different battle now. I stand on the front lines every second of my life fighting Agent Orange. My weaponry is not made of armor or gun powder. It is made up of countless medications and doctors that are keeping me alive. It is made up of this damn laptop computer that sits on top of me up to 15 hours a day allowing me to fight harder and stronger for all of the people that need my tiny military.

Most days, I’m like a robot. Wake up, take my pills, work for hours, take my next set of pills, eat dinner, and then work for several more hours, then take my bedtime pills, and finally, go to sleep, exhausted. I hold in the emotion that wants to take over and pour out on the good days. Only a select group of people can get me through the bad ones, and it’s a very limited select group of people.

Some days, I want to throw my hands up in the air and give up. Most days, I ask myself why I’m waging this war. EVERY DAY, I think about my Father. He had only been 37 for one month when he died, I had only been 7 for six months. I ache for him. People think its abnormal of me to still be grieving 29 years later. Those people have no clue what it’s like to lose a parent at such a young age and so tragically. They have no clue of the scars that were formed as a seven year old not having a Daddy. They just have no clue about anything really.

I realized that I don’t do this work for me. Yes, I am directly effected by Agent Orange and Dioxin exposure, but I have come to terms with my life. I do this work for everyone else, it needs to be done and I am able to do it. I do it for my Father, a man that spent the first half of his life serving his country, and because of that, he never got to live the second half.

Today is Thanksgiving. The official start of the holiday season. The official start of a time when my daily grief turns into utter sorrow. The Christmas lights and decorations in all their glory break me down to the little girl that I never really had the chance to be. I was in fact, the little girl lost.

God help me get through it again this year.
© Kelly L. Derricks
Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance
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(C) James J Alonzo

I had served in Viet Nam, two years,1967 & 1968 as a member of 2/17 Calvary, 101rst Airborne Division, known as the “Screaming Eagles.”

After Viet Nam i got into law enforcement and it became my career of sorts. It was 1988, and there were times that some days were rougher than others, so there was this bar I would go to commonly called a “cop bar” for it was patronized by mostly cops.

There was this one bartender that frequently had the late night shift, so she and I became well acquainted. Often it was just her and I at the bar. One night in particular it was about 1:30 am, and we were just talking while I nursed a potent rum and coke.

The bartender’s name was Rose, a blonde, had a slender figure and about twenty years younger than me. She had asked me once if I had served in Viet Nam, so she knew I was a Viet Nam vet.

What I didn’t know was that her dad had been killed in the war. For some reason this late night she decided to tell me about it.

“You know my Dad was killed over there.” she said, as a matter of fact, like she was telling me that it just started to snow. Her statement caught me off guard and I paused to look her in her blue eyes.

It was then I realized Rose had something to get off her chest.

“No I didn’t know that.” I responded firing questions at her like a machine gun, “I¹m sorry. How did he die, if I may ask? What outfit was he in? Do you know what happened?”

“Yeah, he was an army helicopter pilot.” Rose said, “Mom told me that my father flew a Huey and was on a night rescue mission with another helicopter. They had to rescue some soldiers that had been trapped and surrounded by the enemy. My Dad’s chopper was shot down as they came in for the rescue. My mother told me he flew a lot of rescue missions.”

Even though she was staring somewhere beyond me, I could see she wanted to talk more, so I asked,

“How old were you when he died.” I asked

“I was just a baby, when he left us!” she said sharply.” he volunteer for a second tour!”

I could hear some anger in her voice, and that maybe she was still mad at his dad for dying and leaving her.

In psychiatry we are taught that this a normal reaction, we all tend to have some anger at those that die. We feel deserted, left alone to drift through life without their support. I could see Rose’s anger at her father is still causing her to suffer.

“Can I tell you a story,” I asked, as I started to repack my pipe, and lite it.

“I want you to imagine your nineteen years old”, I started, “You are away from home for the first time and like many young men, you¹re in the military and in the middle of a war zone.”

I paused as Rose lit a cigarette and sat down on a stool behind the bar. Once settled I continued,

“imagine you’re out with a patrol, it hot, the mosquitoes are eating you alive, the sweat is in your eyes, trickling down you spine, it’s night time, and it’s so dark you can’t hardly see your buddy in front of you. Suddenly a much larger force of enemy soldiers has ambushed your patrol.”

I stopped to take another sip of my drink,

“In mere seconds, a few of your guys are already down, some wounded (WIA’s) a couple killed, (KIA’s), and your platoon is fighting for its life! You’re scared, crazy scared and you hear the radio operator calling in for help, as red and green tracers are flying back and forth,

(“Red Dog 2 to Red Dog 1! Red Dog 2 taking fire, overwhelming Victor Charlie, we have KIA’s and WIA’s, need immediate evac! Will pop smoke!”)

“The radio operator is told there is no help available! You realize your platoon is gonna be left out there in the dark to die! You think nobody cares enough about you to save your life. But in truth there is no one willing to make a night evacuation under fire, especially at a hot LZ! (landing zone) Your guts are shriveling into itself in fear. You and your men don’t want to die but death is out there in the dark trying to get at you.”

Rose clears her throat, and drinks her beer, shaking her head at what she is hearing. At this point she is no longer looking at me or anything in the room. She is seeing what i am seeing, but like me she is living it. Her eyes are glazed with a tear in each eye.

“So there you are and it can’t get any worse.” I said, my voice starts cracking, I too am having a hard time controlling my emotions.

“Suddenly the radio crackles and the voice that we hear comes out is like the voice of god himself promising salvation! “Red Dog 2, this is White Bird 4 & 5, hang on we¹re coming!” There are two of us and we can get everybody out! Pop smoke, we will verify.”

I had to clear my throat, I was choked up a bit, so I downed the remainder of my drink and continued,

“We soon heard the chopping of the air from the rotors of the helicopters. It was the pilot of the lead helicopter and he somehow had heard about us and just couldn’t leave us out there to die. I don’t know who that pilot was, but I’ll tell you Rose, whoever that was, that was your old man.”

I Then stood up to leave, slowly placing money on the bar, grabbing my jacket.

Rose looked like she’d been clubbed. There were tears streaming down her cheeks and she seemed incapable of movement. After a bit she turns to me and says,

“I didn’t know, I didn’t know.”

“There was no way you could of known.” I said, “I think your dad was a man that placed more importance on the lives of others more than his own”

At the city of Buffalo marina, there is a memorial to the Deceased personel that were from Buffalo of the Viet Nam war and the names are engraved in the granite. Rose told me her dad’s name was on the wall and asked that I give him my regards. I did that the next time I was there, and looked his name up. I was glad he got his relationship with his daughter back. A girl needs her father even if it is just the memory.

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As most of you already know, baby boomers, by definition, were born between 1946 and 1964. Their presumed rosy childhoods in the 50s and early 60s, prickly coming of age in the 60s and 70s, and glorified success in the yuppie workforce in 80s — along with their diverse musical inspirations and bipolar political activities — have been documented ad infinitum by reporters, writers, filmmakers and social scientists.

The Vietnam War, however, was not only a defining moment in baby boomers’ coming of age. Forty years later, the war is still part of many boomers’ psyches as they face older age. Those who fought and survived the war and those who have lived with a veteran for decades now find themselves revisiting the events that shaped not only the adults they would become but many of their subsequent relationships. With many Vietnam veterans now at retirement age, they are facing a developmental stage of later life when they question where they have been, what they have done, who they became and who they still want to be. In addition, retirement itself, with the cessation of stable, time-consuming work hours, opens up more days for personal exploration and travel.

A group of American veterans of the Vietnam War recently went back to Vietnam on a Healing Journey led by psychologists Ed Tick and Kate Dahlstedt through their organization Soldier’s Heart. With goals of pursuing reconciliation and finding closure on a distant but powerful chapter of their lives, the aging veterans spent the better part of January traveling through Vietnam, revisiting hot spots in which they fought during the war, delivering goodwill gifts to local families and children and listening to Vietnamese veterans who fought for the Viet Cong, North Vietnam and South Vietnam. They met disabled victims of Agent Orange, widows whose husbands died fighting both against and with them and former enemies who hold no grudges.

Soldier’s Heart stopped along the way to remember the Americans’ comrades who lost their lives in sprawling rubber tree plantations, on picturesque mountainsides and above booby-trapped tunnels. They performed healing rituals at gravesides and at both famous and little-known battle sites. The participants found spiritual community amongst themselves and with the facilitation of Vietnamese Buddhist clergy.

After several years of Healing Journeys to Vietnam, a general conclusion of Soldier’s Heart is that the Vietnamese don’t have post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) like our veterans do. Personal reflections from this year’s trip are poetically documented by John Becknell in his blog, “The Phaeacian Project.” Read The Full Story

www.COVVHA.net
Bookmark and Share

As most of you already know, baby boomers, by definition, were born between 1946 and 1964. Their presumed rosy childhoods in the 50s and early 60s, prickly coming of age in the 60s and 70s, and glorified success in the yuppie workforce in 80s — along with their diverse musical inspirations and bipolar political activities — have been documented ad infinitum by reporters, writers, filmmakers and social scientists.

The Vietnam War, however, was not only a defining moment in baby boomers’ coming of age. Forty years later, the war is still part of many boomers’ psyches as they face older age. Those who fought and survived the war and those who have lived with a veteran for decades now find themselves revisiting the events that shaped not only the adults they would become but many of their subsequent relationships. With many Vietnam veterans now at retirement age, they are facing a developmental stage of later life when they question where they have been, what they have done, who they became and who they still want to be. In addition, retirement itself, with the cessation of stable, time-consuming work hours, opens up more days for personal exploration and travel.

A group of American veterans of the Vietnam War recently went back to Vietnam on a Healing Journey led by psychologists Ed Tick and Kate Dahlstedt through their organization Soldier’s Heart. With goals of pursuing reconciliation and finding closure on a distant but powerful chapter of their lives, the aging veterans spent the better part of January traveling through Vietnam, revisiting hot spots in which they fought during the war, delivering goodwill gifts to local families and children and listening to Vietnamese veterans who fought for the Viet Cong, North Vietnam and South Vietnam. They met disabled victims of Agent Orange, widows whose husbands died fighting both against and with them and former enemies who hold no grudges.

Soldier’s Heart stopped along the way to remember the Americans’ comrades who lost their lives in sprawling rubber tree plantations, on picturesque mountainsides and above booby-trapped tunnels. They performed healing rituals at gravesides and at both famous and little-known battle sites. The participants found spiritual community amongst themselves and with the facilitation of Vietnamese Buddhist clergy.

After several years of Healing Journeys to Vietnam, a general conclusion of Soldier’s Heart is that the Vietnamese don’t have post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) like our veterans do. Personal reflections from this year’s trip are poetically documented by John Becknell in his blog, “The Phaeacian Project.” Read The Full Story

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© 2014 ‎(COVVHA) Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC

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