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Page 29
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<< 28. VVAW Supports the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011: HR 263430. Meeting Lamont B. Steptoe, Warrior Writer >>

Second and Third Generation Children of Vietnam Veterans Stricken Gather

By Marty Webster

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Miss Teen California and 3rd
Generation Agent Orange victim
Jenna Mac and Marty Webster.

On April 14-16, seven Agent Orange generational Victims from around the United States gathered in Canfield, Ohio for three days of a power packed and emotionally charged collaboration and brainstorming session. They were meeting to form a new group, created for the children of Vietnam Veterans by children of Vietnam Veterans. Among the attendees were a retired Mental Health worker and an Agent Orange Victim suffering from over 25 unexplained illnesses, the founder of the Daughters of Vietnam Veterans (DOVV), a daughter of an affected Agent Orange victim, and a women born without her arm who was the subject of Japanese photographer Goro Nakamaura's 1982 photographs chronicling Agent Orange devastation in the US and in Vietnam. Also attending was a Professor of English and Creative Writing at The University of Arizona, born with Agent Orange-related birth defects. The host of the event Heather Bowser is a long time activist for second and third generational victims of Agent Orange. Heather is also a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who was born with multiple Agent Orange related birth defects.

Perhaps the most moving aspect of the meeting was Tanya and her daughter Jenna Mack's participation. She is from California, a daughter of a Vietnam Veteran who has been stricken with a potentially fatal form of cancer which costs $12,000 per month for a life sustaining medication. Her daughter, Jenna Mack, is a third generation victim of Agent Orange. This lovely young woman is a beauty queen and the current Miss Teen California. Jenna carries the mutation within her body. She lives with the thought that it is probably only a matter of time until it becomes active. She has evidence already which the doctors are watching very closely. From her platform at beauty pageants, she teaches others how Agent Orange has affected her life. She shared her crown with me and I was visibly moved. I feel that whatever befalls her in life she will always be wearing that crown.

The new group will be called Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance (COVVHA). Marty Webster, National Coordinator of VVAW and a core member of VAORRC (Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign) also attended this meeting and has been asked to mentor this group and to help facilitate the early stages of its formation.

Part of the group at the meeting.

Never before have so many US Agent Orange second generation victims come together to change the face of Agent Orange activism. COVVHA will be committed to serving as a voice for the children of Vietnam veterans including, second and third generation victims of Agent Orange and Dioxin exposures worldwide. They believe in empowering each other to hold the companies and governments responsible for causing so much devastation and suffering. Their mission is to fight for justice globally. Many children and grandchildren of Vietnam veterans are suffering from birth defects and unexplained illnesses which have no prior family history. Like their fathers, many have become seriously ill in the prime of their lives. There is currently no recognition for the birth defects and illnesses in the children of male Vietnam veterans except for certain types of Spina Bifida.

The generational victims of Agent Orange from around the country hosted a reception and film screening of Living The Silent Spring, by Japanese Filmmaker, Masako Sakata. Masako is the widow of an American Vietnam veteran. The film featured Canfield, Ohio resident and Agent Orange Activist, Heather Bowser, a thirty-nine year old, born with birth defects associated with her father's exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. The screening which was open to the public was well attended.

Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson's landmark Silent SpringLiving the Silent Spring depicts the struggles and courage of American and Vietnamese children who bear the imprint of Agent Orange, and asks us to once again heed the prophetic warnings of Rachel Carson.

The event was open to the public and was well attended. Those present were available to talk and answer questions regarding Agent Orange and the effect it has had in their lives. Goro Nakamura, award winning photographer and author, photographed the historic event and Kyoren Takamasa, a Japanese reporter interviewed the Agent Orange generational victims. Both photographers and an interpreter flew in from Japan to record this historic event. Takamasa was also in attendance to record the entire weekend.

Agent Orange the chemical defoliant, sprayed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, has been linked to many illnesses in our country's Vietnam veterans. Many people do not know of the long term, unrecognized, damage the chemical has done to the children of Vietnam veterans from around the world not just in the US, and Vietnam. The Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance is working to bring awareness and justice for all generational victims of Agent Orange wherever in the world they may be.

Marty Webster is a VVAW national coordinator.

A South Vietnamese jungle after Agent Orange.
Photo reprinted from the Fall 1978 issue of The Veteran.

<< 28. VVAW Supports the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011: HR 263430. Meeting Lamont B. Steptoe, Warrior Writer >>