My Dad has been corresponding with a journalist at a political news organization regarding his time spent in Vietnam and his suspicion that agent orange caused my health issues, as well as my brother’s. He shared his story with them and was featured in their “Children of Agent Orange” series. A woman came to their house last week to photograph him and do an audio interview, then a slideshow video was created using the photos and audio clips. The series is a collaboration between ProPublica and the Virginian-Pilot. They’ve collected massive amounts of data from people like my Dad, and while not scientific, the information does raise questions that deserve to be answered.
The video and article links were emailed to my Dad when they went live and he demanded that Mom and I watch the video with him. He talked about my brother for all of 30 seconds, then rattles on about me for a bit and closes with “…I would like to see my daughter taken care of…she can’t fight for herself anymore.” And then, something ahem, falls into my eyes and they start to water. That’s some good production value. I assume people who don’t know us and watch his video, as well as all of the other videos that were published telling similar tales, would have the same reaction. Maybe not tears, but definite uneasiness.
I shared the links on my Facebook page and got a +1 from a classmate whose father served during Vietnam, and she has an autoimmune disease as well. The VA didn’t agree to give her father disability coverage for a very rare form of cancer that he was diagnosed with until shortly before he passed away. I vividly remember when her father died and how it stole the light from her eyes. I was a senior in high school and she was a junior.
In 2004, the government mandated that all active duty service members who deploy to foreign countries near a warzone must get a series of anthrax vaccinations. The initial formula given experimentally prior to 2004 had to be changed, as service members would become severely ill, some permanently. We’ve only got 35-40 years to go until we find out if there’s a link between MC’s aneurysm and the anthrax vaccination. What we do know, is that 2/3’s of people who receive them do get sick with severe flu-like symptoms, often for two or three months.
I’ve touched on the topic of agent orange a few times and I’m not quite sure where I stand, but it’s clear that if the government uses its people as guinea pigs without consent, there is a price to pay. I’m glad more people are speaking up about it. It’s difficult to ignore something that thousands of people are shouting from the rooftops (or from their keyboards).