Saturday, April 10, 2010
FACES OF AGENT ORANGE
By Jim Belshaw
The Holybee’s story is brought to you by The Vietnam Veterans Peace Initiative.
Sonja Holybee says of her oldest child, Stephanie, 35: “She will not give in to it.”
She says the same thing of her other two children, Melisa, 33, and Dan, 30. But Stephanie is the oldest, the first to be diagnosed with illnesses never before found in either her immediate family or the extended families of her parents.
Her mother can find only a single connector: “I feel that the only way Stephanie could have gotten any of these things is from Agent Orange,” Sonja says. “There’s nothing in me or my family or in Ken’s family that shows this stuff showing up. The lone factor is Agent Orange.”
Sonja’s husband, Ken, former VVA California State Council President and an Army veteran, served in I Corps. He swam in Vietnam’s rivers; he was sprayed frequently with Agent Orange by the lumbering aircraft charged with the mission of killing vegetation in Vietnam. Ken reports they were told that they were killing Mosquitoes.
He has not been diagnosed with any Agent Orange-connected disease by the VA.
But disease has been visited upon his children. Stephanie was the first, diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and Raynaud’s Phenomenon.
A brief visit to MedicineNet.com is required to draw an elemental picture of what the young woman faces in her life.
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.