Aftermath of Vietnam affects many

Long ago and far away, there were two neighbors who could not get along with each other. So, they began to fight. As is the case in most of these squabbles, they asked other neighbors, who were bigger and better at fighting to help. And help they got. One of the helpers forced its people to go to the land and help fight, but it was hard to do since the forced people were not sure who it was they were fighting and certainly did not know why.

But, the helpers had a great idea. Let’s destroy each and every place that the fighting “bad” neighbor can hide and it will be easier to defeat them. So they did; they brought a special liquid over and with planes and backpacks spread this liquid. Soon, all the plants died, then the trees died, the crops died. And it became very hard for the fighting people to hide from each other.

What the leaders who brought this liquid did not say was that this liquid would not just destroy green living things, it would also slowly destroy the human living things. And so it did.

When the forced fighters came back to their homes, they were ridiculed and hated, called names and spit on. All for doing what they were forced to do. Soon, many of them became sick and many died. But the leaders said “Oh, it is not the fault of the liquid, it is not our fault, it is something else.” Then the children of those forced fighters became ill or were born ill and still the leaders refused to think that the liquid could be the problem. How many would have to die before they would admit their wrong?

This is a very short version of Vietnam. It is probably the war we would all like to forget if we could. But we can’t, especially those of us who were close to this war, fought in it or had family members, spouses who fought in it. We can’t forget because we live with it every day, even now so many years later.

The amount of soldiers who are still feeling the effects of this liquid – Agent Orange – is staggering, yet the chief culprit Monsanto, has never admitted their guilt or paid for their guilt.

My involvement with Agent Orange was through my husband of 35 years. Watching him die an agonizing death and being unable to prevent it lives with me each and every day. I began to realize that if I felt this way, wouldn’t all the other spouses of these vets feel that way also?

I knew that I had to do something. I have joined an online site called “Wives, partners and widows of Agent Orange.” It has been very beneficial, but it is not enough. If you are also part of this group, either through marriage or a vet who has developed complications, I ask you to please join the group but also contact me.

There is power in numbers and we need to be heard. This country would like to forget us, our representatives would certainly like to pretend we don’t exist and the only way we can force them to do what is right by us is through being a “squeaky wheel.”

Nothing about this issue is easy and I know how much it hurts, but it helps to know you are not alone – and you are not. My e-mail address is moonbeam0534@gmail.com.

Janet Freedline is a Sinclairville resident.