Thursday, December 16, 2010
Faces of Agent Orange - SHEILA CLEMENT
By Linda May
Sheila Clement looks at things like any other nurse would, and she would like to see medical science focus on what it can do for the children and grandchildren of Vietnam veterans.
She was married for about two years to Jerry Fox, whom she called “JD.” He was in the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam 1968-69, at the same time as his brother, Rick, now 62, who was a Marine.
JD died in 1994 at the age of 41.
“JD’s brother is dying, as we speak,”
Sheila and JD married after his tour
“I knew them a long time. JD and Rick were happy, normal teenagers. They’d go fishing together and things were fine. But they came back very different,” she said. “My ex-husband quickly disintegrated after he came back from Vietnam. He was bloated-looking. From the chest down, he was huge. He looked 20 years older.”
Her belief is that an herbicide like Agent Orange affected his internal organs.
“He was only a teenager when he went over. It gradually ate away at him,” she said. “When he died, they figured his heart just exploded.”
After a domestic violence episode, JD and Sheila divorced, but she is not buying the assumption that Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is the only cause of antisocial behavior in some Vietnam veterans.
“I knew JD and his brother from teenagers. They weren’t like that back then. Plus, Vietnam veterans were not all on the front line, but that didn’t mean they were not exposed to Agent Orange,” she said. “They could have been working in the motor pool and not on the DMZ. Some have no horror stories, but so many of them came back acting the same
as those that did, looking older than
JD’s brother performed a supply job in the Marine Corps, and now he is only middle-aged, but he is deathly ill.
READ MORE: http://vva.org/Committees/AgentOrange/CLEMENT081810.pdf
Significant numbers of Vietnam veterans have children and grandchildren with birth defects related to exposure to Agent Orange. To alert legislators and the media to this ongoing legacy of the war, we are seeking real stories about real people. If you wish to share your family’s health struggles that you believe are due to Agent Orange/dioxin, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-585-4000, Ext. 146.