Monday, December 6, 2010

Agent Orange - Break the Silence

by Sharon L. Perry, Founder
Agent Orange Legacy - Children of Vietnam Veterans

It's sad when you stop to think about it, really. Just how many families of veterans exposed to agent orange live in silence. The silence looms over us as if it were an enormous black cloud. Like fog it locks itself in, in our minds, our lives. I'd have to say that is a fair description considering this silence has continued for nearly 40 years.

Although many of us affected know this feeling; we won't talk about it anymore. Why? Well it's simple really. We just got plain tired of being labeled 'crazy'. That wouldn't be so bad if it didn't affect our children at the doctor's office. But it did and still does. So we learn over time to just not speak of it for fear our children wouldn't be seen at all.

I've heard from other mother's that have experienced this like I have. It's not a good feeling. Many times, in the past when my children were still growing up, I was frantic because I had no where to turn for help. What had happened to us was that the doctors would either no longer accept my child as a patient or they disregarded the things I said and ignored my child's symptoms.

It was very scary. Especially when I realized I had only put my child at further risk. All because I brought up agent orange and only, because, I wanted to get to the bottom of what was making my baby sick. That was the only reason many of us brought up agent orange in the first place. We only wanted to help our children!!

Not all of us have had the same experience but many of us have. We understand that agent orange works behind the scenes. It is silent too. When it rears it's ugly head, in many instances, it is impossible to figure out what is happening to the bodies of our children. It sometimes presents itself (agent orange) very mysteriously, exhibiting unusual symptoms. Other times it presents symptoms which are not out of the ordinary.

It's perplexing to say the least. So is the fact that there has been little to no research about the intergenerational affects of agent orange on the children and grandchildren of veterans exposed to agent orange. It makes no sense. Although there is overwhelming evidence suggesting that something need be done, nothing gets done. There is a high incidence of birth defects, auto-immune and rare disease, mental health issues, learning disabilities and other disorders such as autism among the children of Vietnam veterans.

Most of these children are adults now and so are some of the grandchildren; yet things remain the same. In order for this to change we need to be willing to break the silence. Although I appreciate many of the emails I receive we have to do more.

I am honored that you are willing to share a piece of your story. But, we all need to begin to tell our stories about how agent orange has affected the lives of our children and how it's affecting our grandchildren.

Please begin documenting your story today. Email your story to Sharon Perry at

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