I have been invited by Sharon Perry to help with blogs on the website. I thought I'd start out with a little information about me so when you read my posts you can have an idea of where I am coming from. My name is Heather A. Bowser. I am a 38 year old, married Mom with two boys. My oldest is ten and my youngest is five. I am a member of AO legacy. I joined in 2009 because I was looking for other children of Vietnam vets.
|Dad in Vietnam|
My father, who passed away on March 11th, 1998, was a Vietnam veteran who suffered from undiagnosed post traumatic stress disorder. He was drafted into the army and served at Long Binh 1968-1969. He started out as a fork lift operator and became the company armourer. We are unsure when exactly my father was exposed to AO but shortly after returning from Vietnam he developed hypertension. When he was 38, he had emergency heart bypass surgery. He went on to develop diabetes, have a stroke, then at age 50 he had a massive heart attack and died.
In 1972, I was born two months premature and weighed only 3 lbs and4 ounces. I was born without my right leg below the knee, several of my fingers and my big toe on my left foot. My parents struggled to make sense of what caused so many issues in their daughter. My mother had two miscarriages before me and one between my brother and me. My brother John, was born without birth defects. I guess I am a fighter because I am here today to tell my story and to help others who have been effected by AO.
|My parents raised me like any other child|
|Friendship Village, Hanoi Vietnam|
I 100% believe our American Veterans need better services, faster due process, and recognition. I believe anyone who served during the Vietnam war stateside or Other, should be considered exposed to AO, unless there was no possible way they were exposed. Anyone who handled equipment that came back from Vietnam, anyone that helped transport AO, load AO, etc. should be presumed exposed, period. No if, and or buts...
As for the offspring of Vietnam veterans, we have been given a very difficult road to walk in life. Our fathers are dying or have died. Many of us grew up with the ravages of post traumatic stress disorder in our family units. Some of us have had parents who divorced, some of us have dealt with alcoholic or drug addicted parents, or even disabled siblings . To top this off, many of us were born with birth defects, serious birth defects, that have no known origin. Some of us have developed serious diseases, and no one will listen to us. Our plight is complicated, but we carry it as gracefully as we can because we have no other choice.
The only choice for us at this time is to start standing up for ourselves the best we can. We have to start fighting because, our mothers, while strong, cannot carry this battle for us forever. They are tired. Their lives have been filled with a bittersweet love. They have been fighting since AO came into their lives, into their spouse, into their children. The ones of us who are healthy enough must stand up and be heard. Nobody, as much as they try, can do this for us. We as a generation, need to rally together, not only for ourselves, but for the others around the world who suffer because of the decision to spray AO. Let's not simply look inward, but let us look to be inclusive of all the innocent victims. Let's set an example for the world to follow. I would love to see a world where when people think of kids with birth defects or illnesses linked to AO they do not automatically think about just Vietnam. Instead, they also think about the kids in America who not only fight for themselves, but for all innocent victims of agent orange.
|Showing off my new leg last summer|
Heather A. Bowser, L.P.C.C.
Second Generation Victim of Agent Orange