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Sep-08-2009 01:05printcomments

A Sister to All Vietnam Veterans Needs Your Help

Our supporter and her family need our help...

Rena at the Paris Tribunal on Agent Orange.
Rena at the Paris Tribunal on Agent Orange.
Photo courtesy: pixiduc's photostream.

(DA NANG, Vietnam) - A family whose members have laid down their all for the benefit of all Vietnam Veterans is in a desperate situation and needs assistance to weather an ongoing storm.

One of VVAW's own has been in the fight for political as well as very personal reasons, for a very long time. That person is Rena Kopy, widow of John Kopystenski, VVAW member and Agent Orange victim.

A Brief History

I think a fitting place to start, is to share a post to our It was dated May 30th, 2009 and was written and submitted by our Billy X. Here is the link,, which also contains the Executive Summary of the Decision of the International Tribunal, which Rena attended and testified on our behalf.

Rena was recently selected to present at an International Tribunal regarding Agent Orange; “Rena Kopy, long time peace activist, mother and member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, has been touched very personally by that war. She was invited to testify at the recent hearings in Paris about the consequences of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange used widely in Vietnam.

Many reading this already know about this decision, and our hope is that it will lead to financial and medical assistance for the American Veteran, their offspring, and our allies during the Vietnam War and their offspring, and of course to the Vietnamese and their offspring as well.

I am first and foremost an American and that is where my dedication remains – especially towards my American brothers and sisters who have been afflicted and to their offspring who have been afflicted genetically by this insidious poison nicknamed Agent Orange. Of equal concern, however, is the Vietnamese who have been affected.

This article is not about that per se, but about the personal tragedies Rena has continuously endured – and still works tirelessly with a strength and tenacity that just won’t quit.

John Kopystenski, of the VVAW is a victim of Agent
Orange. In Vietnam he was a door gunner.

What my article is specifically about is the recent tragedy that has struck Rena’s family again. Yes, again, dear friends. A little more than a year ago, Rena’s husband, a former door gunner passed away. He was exposed to AO, during his time in Vietnam.

In the years following the war he was afflicted by many diseases as a direct result of this exposure. Their son was in turn afflicted and continues to battle the physical as well as emotional pain of a skin condition and lives every day with the stigma attached to it. Their grandson, Gio, was afflicted with Autism – in my opinion, and in many others' opinions, as well, this too was a direct result of Rena’s husband being exposed and affected to AO while serving in Vietnam.

Young Gio would have turned 6 this past Wednesday. His untimely and accidental death occurred almost one month ago.

For a variety of reasons which I won’t go into here, Rena’s son, Gio’s dad, was charged at the scene with felony child endangerment. It’s up to the courts of our land to decide the outcome, but I can ensure you, there is more that meets the eye in this case. We will be following the developments of the case, and will keep you updated on the details, as they become available.

What is needed and needed now

It is always difficult to ask for money. The economic times, being what they are, the scam artists that prey on people’s hearts and emotions to receive money then just pocket it – the list goes on and on.

I understand the economic situation, but here is a case that we MUST sacrifice for. Rena, in spite of all of her own personal and family tragedies, dedicated the majority of the past 40 years fighting for justice in so many areas – especially from with-in the ranks of VVAW. Agent Orange, PTSD, and the list goes on and on.

She has worked tirelessly, for the same things we believe in – 40 years, my dear friends. Is that not a huge commitment? All I ask is to give something back to our sister who is in great need right now. Not a week from now, nor a month, but immediately.

The arraignment is set for 8:00 a.m. on September 21st and the charge right now is child neglect and endangerment.

Rena says when it comes to her grandson's accident, the charges are false, and no child was more loved or watched over.

Why the need?

For the defense of Gio’s dad. We believe that he has wrongfully been accused of felony child endangerment. As a result, he and Rena’s family need the best attorney that can possibly be had. They have found that person, but as we all know, they don’t come cheap. But because of the laws in their State, the press is already doing a huge smear campaign against Rena, Alex and their entire family, and a local DA who seems to be chomping at the bit with this one to help him get back into office. Well, they need the best representation they can get, and they need us to help them get it; just as Rena has gotten help for so many of us in the past, through her activities with VVAW.

How You Can Help

If you are reading this on-line, chances are, you have heard of PayPal. That is the most secure and reliable way to send in your contributions. Simply go to: - Click “Send Money” if you already have an account or click “Get Started”, if not, and it will walk you through how to conduct the transaction. After you have completed setting up your account, send your contribution to:

It’s that simple Folks... on behalf of Gio, Rena and Alex, thanks for your ongoing support.


Chuck Palazzo is a Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran, the Interim Editor for Agent Orange, and a longtime Vietnam Veterans Against the War Member. Chuck Palazzo has spent years since the war studying the impacts and effects of Agent Orange, a defoliant chemical sprayed by the U.S. govt. on the jungles of Vietnam. He says Dioxins have been re-discovered to cause all sorts of damage to humans. These include Heart Disease, Parkinsonism, Diabetes etcetera. Dioxins are already known to produce serious birth defects and a variety of cancers. The chemical is still sold in Third World Countries and causing the same problems.

We at welcome Chuck aboard and look forward to sharing more of his stories with our readers in the future.

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Rena Kopystenski September 9, 2009 6:39 pm (Pacific time)

I cannot thank Chuck and your publication enough for trying to help, even though I do not believe that anyone else is interested in making sure that justice is an actuality instead of a fatality. My grandson Gio was raised solely by his Dad, with some help from my husband and I, but a more cared for, loved and cherished child never was. We miss him so terribly but do not even have time to mourn because we are fighting lies told by a "witness" who was the guilty party but didn't want to be caught as a "felon in possession of a firearm". I thank you again and say G-d Bless you for caring.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.