Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance (COVVHA)
Board of Directors
Heather A. Bowser
Heather A. Bowser is 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.
Meet Our COVVHA Associates and Authors Below
Tanya Mack is 39 years old and the daughter of Vietnam Veteran SSGT. James Sciaccotti who was a Combat Controller in the United States Air Force and was part of the Special Operations Squadron, 101st Airborne Unit in the A shau Valley from 10/1966 – 4/1968. She is married with 3 children ages 18, 16 and 7 and lives in Southern California. Tanya was born with severe hip dysplasia and started having hip reconstruction surgery at just 4 months old. After 15 hip reconstruction surgeries, at 17 years of age she had her first total hip replacement surgery. 22 years later, she has had a total of 4 hip replacements with a 5th one needed within the next 6 months.At 32 years old she started to develop multiple basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. They were very aggressive and according to the pathology reports, were a different mutation than what they normally see in these types of cancers. After genetic testing was done, she was diagnosed with Basal Cell Nevus Syndrome (also known as Gorlin Syndrome). This was a result of a mutation in her PTCH1 gene that has been attributed to her Father’s exposure to Agent Orange. Currently, she has had 198 skin biopsies of which 181 were positive for Cancer. By the time she was 34 she had a total hysterectomy due to Squamous Cell Carcinoma in her Uterus and on her Ovaries. In 2010, she was diagnosed with Melanoma. She was fortunate that it was caught early and had not spread to her Lymph Nodes however, it did spread far enough to have to have tissue and muscle removed.August, 2011 she was diagnosed with another rare form of Cancer called Bowens Disease. Bowens Disease is caused by extreme exposure to Arsenic and is considered Arsenic Poisoning. She has never worked or been exposed to herbicides and pesticides, other than through her Fathers exposure to Agent Orange. Over 50% of the Compound used in Agent Orange was Arsenic.
At 35 years old she was diagnosed with Lupus and Reynaud’s Disease, neither of which there is a family history of. Shortly thereafter she was also informed that the severe back pain that she was having was curve in my spine.On August 21, 2012, her Father passed away from Lung Cancer and Colon Cancer. He was 64 years old. His Cancer had been attributed to his exposure to Agent Orange. At the time of his death, he was receiving benefits from the V.A. and was considered 100% disabled due to service connected Agent Orange Exposure. Tanya now serves on COVVHA’s executive board.
Valerie A. Ouillette is 39 years old, and was born in New Jersey. She is the daughter of a Vietnam Vet. Growing up on a farm, the hours were long and hard, but Valerie’s family always grew their own organic foods, and had a great work ethic. Valerie is in the minority, her father is still alive, and he is just now experiencing the longer term effects of Agent Orange.
Her father was an athlete in his younger years, and anything they ate was personally grown or wild harvested. She believes that this helped slow the progression of the damage caused by the Agent Orange, but his body was only able to hold it back for so long. When it hit him, it was all at once. He is also living with Diabetes, Ischemic Heart Disease, severe Anxiety, Agent Orange syndrome, and Hepatitis C that he contracted via an experimental vaccine given to him by the military. He is currently in remission. He suffers from severe and untreated PTSD. Valerie’s memories about his behavior go back as far into her childhood as she can remember. Valerie has a great Mom who has been there through it all.
Valerie was exposed to the words “Agent Orange” as a young child in the early 1980s when her family became part of a class action lawsuit. Her older brother was the first child born after her father’s return from Vietnam. He was born with numerous congenital defects including cardiac defects, Cerebral Palsy, Hydrocephalus, severe cognitive delays, blindness, etc. He passed away at the age of 2.5 years, and was part of a study used in the class action lawsuit. While he had already passed long before the lawsuit began, the lawyers were interested enough to visit her family.
Valerie graduated from Edison State College with a degree in Emergency Medical Services. She has worked as a licensed paramedic. Unfortunately, she recently had to stop working due to the dysfunction of her autonomic nervous system and early stages of Addison’s disease (abnormal adrenal function). She has been dealing with multiple medical issues since birth. She had decided to return to school to become a Unitarian Universalist pastor with a goal of becoming a VA chaplain. Unfortunately, she is unable attend school due to her multiple medical conditions. These include, but not limited to: anxiety/depression secondary to her PTSD, Ehlers-Danlos (rare connective tissue disease), endometriosis, fibromyalgia, etc.
She is not new to the issues surrounding the fight for the Children of Vietnam Veterans. Her son, while adopted (she suffers from infertility) has many of the same diagnoses that parents of the third generation have reported in their children. She has worked extensively to stabilize his Asperger’s Syndrome, so she understands and relates to her peers that have children with the same health concerns. She works to manage her own illnesses, and relates to others who have experienced a parent with PTSD. As an openly bisexual woman, Valerie is also active in her local LGBTQ community fighting for the equality of all. She offers to help her peers that do not want to “come out” themselves by just listening, and offering a helping hand. Valerie hopes by working with Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance she will be able to use her vast experience to help her peers.
Current Contributors to COVVHA’s work
Chelsea Benedict Medley
Chelsea Benedict Medley is the daughter of disabled Vietnam Veteran H. Glenn Benedict. During his time in Vietnam, Sergeant Benedict was exposed to the chemical Agent Orange which is believed to be what caused Chelsea’s birth defects and several chronic health issues. Chelsea was born with a condition called VACTERL Association.
VACTERL is an acronym: V – Vertebal anomalies A – Anal atresia (no hole at bottom of intestine) C- Cardiac defect TE – Tracheo-Esophogeal fistula R – Renal (kidney abnormalities) L- Limb abnormalities (abnormal formation of the thumb and/or the radius bone in the forearm)
Chelsea was born premature and spent the first 3 months of her life in the hospital. Some of the health issues Chelsea continues to battle presently include, (but are not limited to) the following : ● Scoliosis ● Chronic intestinal issues ● Depression ● Endometriosis ● Ovarian cysts ● Thyroid disease (hypothyroidism)
Today, Chelsea works tirelessly contacting main stream media outlets on behalf of COVVHA spreading awareness on the effects of Agent Orange and the birth defects caused by the deadly toxin. Chelsea has two daughters with her husband, who is a retired Navy Veteran. Her oldest daughter has been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.
Kevin Barlow is the son of deceased Vietnam Veteran Jerry Allen Barlow US Navy GMG2 who died in 1985. His father was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor with 6 other war medals during the Vietnam War in 1967-‐1973. He was the only surviving member of his original crew that made it back home only to succumb to cancer and complications linked to Agent Orange exposure a decade later. Kevin’s father suffered from severe depression and PTSD.
The Agent Orange dioxins had drastically eroded his body and health; he had stomach and liver problems, multiple tumors, skin cancer, mental traumatic stress and depression and eventually succumbed to lung and throat cancer dying of a heart attack at the age of 46 years old. Kevin and his two older brothers were born in Vietnam during the war where his father married a Vietnamese woman Thom Thi Trinh. They lived on the military base in Vinh Long where his father patrolled the waterways along the Mekong Delta with his Navy PBR Gunboat patrol. The base was attacked in 1968 during the TET Offensive.
Agent Orange has affected his family with multiple illnesses his two cousins were both born with severe paralysis and other congenital deformities. Their father was a South Vietnamese Soldier who was also exposed to Agent Orange. In 2013 Kevin visited Vietnam with his family for the first time since he left as a child in 1973. He took photographs and documented his trip of following in his father’s footsteps to see where his father had contracted Agent Orange and learn more about how it has affected the Vietnamese people. He toured the “Hot Spots” along the Mekong Delta where his father was stationed south of HCMC.
Kevin also visited some Agent Orange hospitals in HCMC bringing donations to the orphaned children. By visiting the children he had an opportunity to see first hand what the terrible effects of Agent Orange can do with genetic deformities and birth defects. Upon his return Kevin created “Domain of the Golden Dragon” an online and film project about raising Agent Orange awareness. He is currently working on a pitch to raise a budget for an Agent Orange Animated Documentary.
Kevin attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is Owner and Creative Director of Fusion Entertainment Studios based in Los Angeles. He has previously worked as an Art Director at Microsoft and Graphic Designer at Colle McVoy Ad Agency. He has also written and directed several animated films that have played in a number of Film Festivals. Domain of the Golden Dragon: Agent Orange Aware
I am infected with Agent Orange Dioxin poisoning. I am known as a Blue Water Navy Sailor. I had made 4 deployments to the waters of Vietnam, known as the combat zone in the South China Sea and Tonkin Gulf onboard the USS Sacramento (AOE-1), during the periods 1968, 1969, 1970 & 1971. At the time of my enlistment in the US Navy, February 1953, my home town was Philadelphia, Pa.. After 22 years of Naval service, I retired USN, April 1975. I now make my home in Media, Pa. I am married to my wonderful wife Cathy (Reilly) Bury, of Philadelphia, Pa.
At the age 17, I had no thoughts that I would ever be engaged in a war. My dream at the time was the adventures of the sea and visiting foreign lands. However, as our times would have it, there was a war, Vietnam. As it turns out, the Vietnam War was the most controversial war in American history. In today‘s modern times, little is said about that war. Warriors of the Vietnam War were not welcomed home, instead we were looked down upon often with deceitful comments. 50 years later, May 28, 2012, Memorial Day, the President of the United States of America, Welcomed Home we who fought in the Vietnam War. Over 2.5 million Americans fought in that war of all branches of our armed forces. Over 58,000 died in combat operations.
In 2002, I was diagnosed with my first cancer. In time, three more cancers developed in my body. Rapidly my quality of life diminished. It is my belief I was poisoned with Agent Orange Dioxin. AO, as we call it, was a herbicide used as a defoliant in Vietnam. Its use was to clear the jungles and forests affording the enemy less coverage to hide; also to deplete the enemy’s food supply. Our government refers to the defoliant as Tactical Herbicides. Unbeknown to we who fought on land, at sea and in the air, this herbicide would some day cause a variety of illnesses. The number is unknown, but it could be estimated that one million plus American Veterans may have died from dioxin poisoning. It does not end with veterans. Disease and deaths are now consuming children and grand children of Vietnam veterans, known as second and third generation AO casualties.
I am one of many who have taken up the sword of advocacy for Vietnam veterans, their children and widows. I write articles for publication to inform the American people about Agent Orange and what is has done to those who have died and those who still live with diseases cause by that deadly herbicide. I attempt to inform the American people and urge them to contact their respective members of Congress and Senate to pass legislation that will provide adequate care and disability for AO infected veterans, and AO infected children of veterans; plus widows of those veterans who have died. John can be contacted by E-mail; firstname.lastname@example.org
The following Link Features Original Writings, Videos, Artworks, and Submissions By Our Members Including The Children Of Vietnam Veterans, Family Members, and Vietnam Veterans Themselves.At This Time, We Ask That Visitors Use The Following Link To View The Copyrighted Content. If You Would Like To Submit Your Original Work, Please Email Us At COVVHA@GMAIL.COM