My Dad was enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at age 20. He had already married his first wife, and fathered his first child, my half sister. He spent two years in Vietnam during the “conflict”, and until recently, none of us had any idea of what he went through. He wouldn’t talk about it. Men are like that, but even mentioning it would set him off. He was an extremely angry, severely depressed man, and spent any time he was away from work either at the bar, or drinking at home and tinkering with his box of motorcycle parts.
I have many good memories from childhood, but there were also plenty of things I’d rather forget. My Dad never meant to harm me, but his PTSD combined with alcoholism made him lose control frequently. Sometimes it was just insults when he’d be frustrated while trying to get me to understand math equations, and other times I’d tug on his last nerve until it snapped and he would hit me. Young people are the center of their own universe, and as such, I grew up thinking I was stupid and that there was something seriously wrong with me. It followed me well into my 20’s, but as time passed (and lots of money spent on therapy), I realized I had become an extension of my father’s abusive behavior because it was all I ever knew. I still struggle with confidence, but I’m substantially more happy than I was. I’ve also forgiven him and refuse to carry his anger any longer. I’ve got plenty of my own, in case you haven’t noticed. Despite our relationship continuing to be rocky, I love him and I know he loves me. Living hundreds of miles away helps!
When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, my Dad went on a tirade about how his exposure to agent orange is what’s causing all of my health problems, as well as my brother’s. My oldest half sister was born before he went over, and besides problems with drug and alcohol addiction, she’s healthy. He mailed me 20 pages of VA forms to fill out, sign, and send back to him to file a claim for disability compensation. Even knowing the claim would be denied, his friend at the VA said if they have enough claims on file, they may change the entitlements.
Children who have certain birth defects and are biological children of Vietnam-era Veterans with qualifying service in Vietnam or Korea may be eligible for VA compensation, health care, and vocational training. Learn more about benefits for children with birth defects.
VA presumes that certain birth defects in biological children of women Vietnam Veterans were caused by military service when the birth mother served in Vietnam between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975. Eligible children may receive VA benefits.
Birth defects covered by VA
Birth defects are abnormalities present at birth that result in mental or physical disabilities.
VA recognizes a wide range of birth defects as associated with women Veterans’ service in Vietnam. These diseases are not tied to herbicides, including Agent Orange, or dioxin exposure, but rather to the birth mother’s service in Vietnam.
Covered birth defects include, but are not limited to, the following conditions:
- Cleft lip and cleft palate
- Congenital heart disease
- Congenital talipes equinovarus (clubfoot)
- Esophageal and intestinal atresia
- Hallerman-Streiff syndrome
- Hip dysplasia
- Hirschprung’s disease (congenital megacolon)
- Hydrocephalus due to aqueductal stenosis
- Imperforate anus
- Neural tube defects
- Poland syndrome
- Pyloric stenosis
- Syndactyly (fused digits)
- Tracheoesophageal fistula
- Undescended testicle
- Williams syndrome
Conditions due to family disorders, birth-related injuries, or fetal or neonatal infirmities with well-established causes are not covered. If any of the birth defects listed above are determined to be a family disorder in a particular family, they are not covered birth defects.
Since he’s a guy, and it’s not a birth defect (but clearly genetic), me and my brother obviously aren’t covered. When I submitted my claim, the VA sent a letter and told me they needed a copy of all of my medical records to put on file. Uh, yeah. Not fucking happening, VA. That’s where the process ended for me, and made Dad want to strangle me. There are thousands of reports from children of Vietnam Vets of fertility problems, and genetic disorders that they have no family history of. I don’t deny that there is a link.
It doesn’t matter what I think, or what he thinks. Ask any doctor, and they’ll say it’s conspiracy theory because a man’s reproductive equipment makes fresh material regularly, whereas women are born with all that they’ll ever have. My question is, where do the sperm get their genetic information from? His DNA, right? And if his DNA got scrambled by agent orange, it stands to reason he was shooting out some weird little fuckers. As I was trying to explain myself to intern #341, he stopped me before I could finish. He didn’t want to hear another word from the crazy woman talking to him.
It’s frustrating for him to believe something, but not be able to prove it. He wants validation, but I don’t believe it will happen before he dies. People my age and slightly older who are AO kids are the proof, but the government has a difficult enough time taking care of its service members, let alone all of their fucked up kids. Meanwhile, millions of dollars are being spent on political campaigns. It’s not right, but that’s America. Happy 4th of July.