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I humbly give voice to over a quarter million of my sisters who served in the military during the Vietnam Era—at home, around the globe, and in Vietnam. No matter where we were sent, all of us were invaluable ingredients contributing to the American military effort worldwide. And it depended on us. Admittedly or not, you know it always has.

Vietnam: Over eight thousand of us were there. Most of us were nurses, working in Field, Evac, and Surgical Hospitals from the Delta to the DMZ. But nearly a thousand of us weren’t nurses. Not to be forgotten, we were specialized, dependable, and capable troops, working in a variety of fields, including logistics, administration, security, and intelligence. Our military roles were expanding. We were teetering on the edge of major change. We could feel it, and we could taste it.
We served at a time when our nation faced formidable challenges, upheavals, and unrest fueled in part by our Vietnam involvement and the antiwar turmoil that were painfully dividing the nation. Factor into this the human and civil rights movements. And let’s not forget women’s rights. [read complete article ]

The soldiers are dying. But, even more tragically, the children they have left behind are suffering. Sometimes at Birth Defect Research for Children we hear from veterans, but usually it is wives and children who send us poignant messages:

“I lost my husband from a cancerous brain tumor 13 months ago. My son has many disabilities, including Tourette’s syndrome, mental retardation, mild cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, and he is profoundly deaf. He will never be able to live on his own.”

“My father passed away in 1998. He had many health problems, including type II diabetes. He was only 50 years old. Agent Orange has been a part of my life from the moment I was born. I was born without my right leg, several of my fingers, and my big toe on my left foot. My mother had three miscarriages. My younger brother (age 29) has to wear bifocals and suffers from chronic joint pain.”

“I served four tours in Vietnam. We have three children: one daughter with a heart defect, another with scoliosis and digestive problems, and a son born with a defective optic nerve that has left him blind in the right eye. There is no history of birth defects on either side of our family.”

Since 1991, we have recorded thousands of such cases in our National Birth Defect Registry. [read complete article]

“A great day for Vietnam veterans,” I heard someone say during the height of the huge parade along Constitution Avenue that VVA sponsored on Saturday, November 10, in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was a great day, too, for VVA, for putting on a memorable and meaningful event in the Nation’s Capital. [read complete article]

Late in the war, American troops were supposed to be withdrawn in tandem with improvements in the South Vietnamese armed forces. It has become an article of faith among some that Vietnamization produced a supple, effective Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) that could have won the war but for the termination of American aid. Claims about the effectiveness of the ARVN produced a mountain of press releases at the time and included official testimony before Congress, progress reports, statements at press conferences, and a plethora of materials flowing from American sources in Saigon.

Like just about everything else regarding the Vietnam War, those claims require examination. Most recent articles on this subject go little further than repeating the numbers in the press releases. That is misleading because statistics only scratch the surface of the story. There is much more to be said. [read complete article]

Honey Sue Newby is 36 years old now. Born in 1971, her father served eight years in the Marines and saw three combat tours in Vietnam. When Honey Sue was born, her mother, Suzanne Nesler, knew something was wrong.

“Something was amiss,” Suzanne said. “Honey Sue had severe jaundice and they kept her in the hospital for further observation.”

What was wrong turned out to be spina bifida, a congenital disorder that involves incomplete development of the brain and spine. One of a group of abnormalities known as neural tube defects, spina bifida is caused by the failure of the spinal column to form correctly during the first month of pregnancy.
[read complete article]



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