Children of A.O.

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:

  • Achondroplasia
  • 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
  • Hypospadias
  • 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.

11 thoughts on “Children of A.O.

  1. Wait, did I miss something? Isn’t it well documented that offspring of AO-exposed men are prone to illnesses due to genetic mutations? I mean, each little sperm germ gets 23 somatic chromosomes plus a “y,” and like you say, they’re made fresh, so any sperm made post-VN would reflect changes in the parent DNA due to AO exposure.

    You have to understand, this is an “aha” for me. I don’t know much about adult type medicine, but your “case” has perplexed me in its complexity, the pleomorphic expression of autoimmune syndromes overlapped like Photoshop layers. Darling, you are just so fascinating (😝)!

    No really, I am fascinated with the idea of Agent Orange as the unifying, uh, agent behind what otherwise seems to be a complex bundle of loosely related autoimmune diseases. I’d like to see the VA pay for that! (And pay, and pay, and pay….) Hell, you could cost them a pretty penny if you DID send them your records! Take them three or four years to read them all. Then again, they might just look at the tower of paper and just give you the compensation 😆

    I’m sorry you had to catch the business end of the PTSD shit stick. Glad you got your moxie back once you got to be a grown-up (wait, you’re not still wailing about how your life is ruined because your father isn’t perfect???). You’re a tough cookie. A sweet cookie too! ❤🍹😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well documented by everyone but the VA ;). I think 1980-something was the last time the list of covered illnesses was updated. Since then, droves of us pissed off mutants have crawled out of the woodwork and they deny it because “long term studies haven’t been carried out”. I’d like to volunteer. I’m already a guinea pig. My Dad brought it up last year when he visited me in the hospital and they gave him the ‘you’re an idiot speech’. Like they were explaining science to a 3 year old. Doctors who weren’t technically even doctors yet talking to us like we were morons. It happens often. I need to be on the lookout for a sign taped to my back that says “I’m dumb, please use small words” from now on.

      I think my brother and I have had IBD since we were kids, but we just called it nervous bowels. My illness didn’t happen suddenly, though it seemed to get bad fast, I avoided doctors for 7 years before finally making an appointment. Y’all are scary. It’s hard to say how much of this stuff is new, and how much of it is just a result of living with this shit my entire life unmonitored. I don’t have much of a baseline to compare it to. I think my thyroid was checked when I was in high school, but that’s it.

      Ha! I only wail when I have to stay in his house for a month. Now that he walks around with his teeth out I laugh at him when he talks. I can’t help myself. Ahh, it’s perfect. Payback is a bitch.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Holy shit: caught toothless by the Vengeful Daughter! A terrifying thought 😜

        Don’t you just love it when the med students, etc, treat you like some pinhead? I laughed my ass off one time when a med student d/c’d my IV (that was when I still had veins) and my blood spurted right into her eye hole! She was such a pompous ass, I didn’t even mind the extra blood draw for yet another HIV test. The look on her face was priceless. Oh, and she hadn’t bothered to put on gloves…

        You know how there really can’t be a concert without an audience? Well, there can’t be a medical profession without patients. All of the great minds of medicine have taught that you can only get the basics out of books. For real learning, you go to your patients. Any medico who doesn’t grok that one is a fool and an ignoramus. I’m sure you’ve met some of each…..

        I tell you a secret: I was a very bad resident. See, I held up rounds by asking questions. My medical school was all about inquiry, so I had learned about questions. But my residency was all about being in a rush, so they sent me to whatever gulag was available at the time. This one gulag was a person. He was a very cool young man, maybe 20 years old, and he had polycythemia due to a congenital heart malformation. I remember what it was: a single ventricle. It’s incredibly rare, and ridiculously rare for someone to live that long with it. So because he ran low on oxygen all the time, his body kept on making more red blood cells to try to compensate. His blood would literally get too thick, like motor oil. So my job was to sit there patiently and draw off a couple hundred cc’s, so he wouldn’t gel up like a cold diesel engine. That guy was blue as a Smurf. It took at least an hour to draw that blood, it was so damn thick. Over the course of a few months, he taught me all about his cardiac anomaly. He was my teacher, and I was the pair of hands that gave him space in his blood vessels to live another day.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I couldn’t even imagine the frustration. True proof that there are many un-acknowledged lingering effects from those dark days. Of course that proof means shit to any government ran system. More important to fund pharmaceuticals that make dicks hard again or politicians that are going to destroy the planet. Our health care system here encounters similar birth defect coverage problems, but not so much from Vietnam, a lot more concerns with radiation poisoning and residual genetic problems from the northern Europe. Those I know dealing with this hassle are having just about as much luck and frustration as your dad. It is incredibly sad. I truly hope someday that all of it comes to light and those fighting to give proof for what they know is hurting their loved ones and themselves finally can get some peace of mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said. I’m sorta indifferent about it, what’s done is done. Not the war itself-that shit is awful, and even more awful was the way the world treated the soldiers when they returned. I have excellent health insurance, so even trying to get covered by the VA would feel like an insult to vets. I think getting my brother and I covered is the ONE thing my Dad wants to accomplish before he croaks. Who knows, they might change the rules some day.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. HO-LY!!! CRAP!! I didn’t even *think* about that. My biological father was in Vietnam for two tours, back to back, and he and my mom got together shortly after he got back. She divorced him when I was two and I haven’t seen him since I was six. He dead now. Heart attack a year and a half ago, or so I heard.
    I HAVE hip dysplasia and my mom has spent my entire life asking why I’m sick. It’s like the dominoes just finally lined up and I can see the hows and the whys to explain everything. Holy shit! Do you mind if I do some research and post my own take on this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not at all! Be prepared to uncover a lot of shit that will make you she-hulk ;). I’m looking forward to your take on this. I haven’t done much research because my Dad is so obsessed with it, he emails me a link just about every day. I guess it’s still automatic to do the opposite of what he requests.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol! yeah…..I live 2500 miles from my mom. It’s just better that way. But I am interested to see her reaction because she has always wondered why I have the issues I do. I’m an only child so I can’t compare anything to siblings, but nobody else that I know of on either side has anything like I do. I personally believe my brain tumor comes from the big, experimental piece of metal in my hip. My surgery was 14-15 months after the FDA approved the implant and they don’t do all metal hips anymore. But the autoimmune and the hip dysplasia that started everything….hmmmm.

        Liked by 1 person

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