Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Faces of Agent Orange


By Jim Belshaw

In any conversation about the effects of Agent Orange on the children of Vietnam veterans, Dan Griffin's daughters provide a clear demarcation line for him.

He has two daughters – Kim, born while he was in Vietnam, and Shannon, born after his return. Kim is healthy. Shannon is not. She has been diagnosed well into adulthood with numerous blood-borne diseases and dysfunctions of her autoimmune system. One of these diseases has so disfigured her face, she cannot bring herself to leave her home. Her nose has virtually disappeared.

"She's a prisoner of war," Dan said. "She's a POW of the Vietnam War." She adamantly refused to have her picture included in this story until persuaded to do so by her father.

"She was a beautiful young woman," he said. "To me, she's still beautiful, and I love her. But I hope she never sees this story or these pictures." He said Agent Orange came to mind immediately when Shannon began having health problems.

"I made the Agent Orange connection pretty much as soon as she started having problems," he said. "One born while I was in Vietnam, and she's fine; the second, born after Vietnam, and she's not fine. It wasn't too hard for me to come up with a connection there."

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