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Agent Orange Awareness Month, COVVHA Steps Up and Speaks Out
Children of Vietnam Veterans feel it’s their responsibility to speak out against Genetically Modified Foods manufactured and grown by a chemical company that has killed and sickened their fathers, and created havoc in their own lives.
(LANGHORNE, PA) - October brings visions of cider, warm sweaters, shorter days and time with our families. The colors of foliage quickly turn to yellows, reds, and orange. For people suffering the long lasting effects of the herbicide Agent Orange, which was sprayed as a part of Operation Ranch Hand during the Vietnam War, October is a yearly reminder of the need for continued Agent Orange education. October is Agent Orange Awareness Month.
Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance (COVVHA) members are speaking out in cities all across the United States at the worldwide March Against Monsanto (MAM) rallies correlating close to World Food Day, Saturday, October 12.
Never before will so many Children of Vietnam Veterans be speaking out at the same time, on the same day, about how Agent Orange has affected their health, and the health of their families. Monsanto was one of the seven chemical companies who manufactured Agent Orange which was laced with one of the most deadly chemicals known to man, dioxin.
Monsanto, the other six companies, and the U.S. government, are responsible for the slow burn genocide of Vietnam Veterans, their children and grandchildren. Today, fifty two years after the beginning of spraying in Vietnam the effects of the chemical are still being felt here in the United States, Australia, and in Vietnam.
Children of Vietnam Veterans feel it’s their responsibility to speak out against Genetically Modified Foods manufactured and grown by a chemical company that has killed and sickened their fathers, and created havoc in their own lives. Almost as soon as Vietnam Veterans came home and started their family, reports began to surface about multiple miscarriages and birth defects in their children. Their plea has mostly been ignored. Currently, the only acknowledged birth defect in the children of male Vietnam Veterans is Spina Bifida (not Occulta). However, thousands of Vietnam Veteran’s children believe their father’s exposure is to blame for their birth defects and chronic illnesses and their children’s birth defects and illnesses. Yes, the grand children of Vietnam Veterans suffer in high numbers as well. Children of Vietnam Veterans do not want the horrible legacy they must carry to be repeated in the lives of another innocent population.
Tami Canal, of Salt Lake City, Utah, Founder of March Against Monsanto, invited Kelly L. Derricks, of Philadelphia, PA, Co Founder of Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance to consult with MAM, as the head Agent Orange Educator for the MAM organization. Connecting past history, which is still devastating those Agent Orange has touched, with current concerns over rights to know what is in the food the country is digesting, is a way to build perspective on the dangers of mixing Agrichemical companies and government regulation or lack of regulation.
COVVHA was started for the purpose of Agent Orange Education and empowerment. One of their primary goals are to empower children of Vietnam Veterans to be their own voice in a world that has moved on and forgotten them. The group was started by two children of Vietnam Veterans who have both lost their fathers from Agent Orange illnesses, and themselves suffer from birth defects and illnesses. Matching COVVHA members to local MAM rallies was a natural step encouraging collaboration and information sharing.
COVVHA members went through a short process requiring them to write their own Agent Orange story, become knowledgeable about the history of the chemical herbicide Agent Orange , and current benefits available to children of female Vietnam Veterans (18 + birth defects recognized) and children of Male Vietnam Veterans (one, Spina Bifida, not occulta). They used the information to write a 15 minute speech. Many will be speaking publicly for the first time about their experiences as an Agent Orange survivor. When the COVVHA member completed the necessary requirements, they became COVVHA Certified Speakers. This event is starting the groundwork for a nationwide speaker’s bureau where organizations interested in having an Agent Orange speaker at their event or meeting will be able to find someone locally.
Several COVVHA members wrote speeches, but are too ill to travel. Their speeches will be sent to MAM local events that requested a speaker, but did not have a local COVVHA member. Some of the illnesses children of Vietnam Veterans are suffering from in large numbers include, auto immune diseases, spinal problems, endocrine disorders, cancers, muscle skeletal problems, fertility issues and mental illness. COVVHA has a large private support community made up of only children of Vietnam Veterans to connect members with each other so they can finally know they are not alone.
Agent Orange has left many families grieving through the five decades since the beginning of chemical spraying in Vietnam in 1961. Currently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes 14 different illnesses and cancers as presumptive and compensated illnesses for Vietnam Veterans. Any Vietnam Veteran who was in Vietnam anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, including brief visits, or service aboard a ship that operated on the inland waterways has been presumed as exposed to Agent Orange. A veteran may also be eligible if they served along the Korean DMZ between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971. Some of the presumed illnesses Veterans can file for, include Type II Diabetes, Hodgkin’s Disease, Prostate Cancer, Ischemic Heart Disease and others. Please contact a local service officer to file a claim for disability, and or survivor benefits. A veteran or family member may reach out to the Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, The American Legion, or a county service officer to file a claim.
So when your thoughts return to fall and the color orange, remember the children and grandchildren of Vietnam Veterans who continue to fight a war they weren’t drafted for or signed up for. The innocent ones who have been maimed and forgotten, who as adults must now stand up and speak out or continue to be denied until they die like many of their fathers before them. October is Agent Orange Awareness Month; please support those trying to make a difference in their own lives.
Several cities will have COVVHA certified speakers at their MAM event:
San Diego California, Denver Colorado, Hartford Connecticut, St.Petersburg Florida,
Tampa Florida, Rockford Illinois, Ann Arbor Michigan, Kansas City Missouri, St. Louis Missouri,
Princeton New Jersey, Charlotte North Carolina, Columbus Ohio, Coos Bay Oregon,
Lancaster Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Austin Texas,
Salt Lake City Utah, Madison Wisconsin
Find a March Event Near You!! http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/p/blog-page.html
Author: Heather A. Bowser, LPCC
For More Information:
An Agent Orange activist, and public speaker, Heather has been advocating for those affected by the chemical herbicide Agent Orange for most of her life. Heather, who was born with multiple birth defects, is the daughter of a deceased Vietnam Veteran who passed away due to his Agent Orange exposure. She continues the fight for justice her parents started, for all who have been affected by Agent Orange, regardless of country of origin.
Heather is a co-founder of Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC. (COVVHA), which serves the unique and important purpose of connecting and educating the offspring of those who served in the Vietnam War, a group actively working to raise awareness about Agent Orange contamination as it pertains to the children of those who served in the Vietnam War.
Heather travels the United States, speaking at a multitude of Veteran’s Organizations, and various conferences educating Veterans and others regarding trans-generational effects of Agent Orange. Heather has been to Vietnam three times to work with Vietnamese advocates of Agent Orange.
Heather is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with her Master’s degree in Community Mental Health. She has more than 6 years of community mental health counseling experience with a specialty in trauma and PTSD. Heather owns and operates a 13,000 square foot antique mall in Deerfield, Ohio with her husband and children.
You can write to Heather Bowser at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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