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Children of Vietnam Veterans: Their Voice Keeps GrowingSalem-News.com
COVVHA has also built a private support community for only children of Vietnam Veterans.
(WASHINGTON DC) - Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance, INC. (COVVHA), is an organization that was founded to address the specialized needs of the children and grand children of Vietnam Veterans who have been negatively affected by their parent's exposure to the herbicide, Agent Orange, during the Vietnam war. We educate veterans, their families, the general public, and lawmakers about Agent Orange and it's effect on our lives.
COVVHA was founded by two children of Vietnam Veterans. Heather A. Bowser and Kelly L. Derricks. Both of their lifes have been significantly affected by Agent Orange. Kelly lost her father at age seven due to Agent Orange illnesses. Kelly currently suffers from twenty eight, unexplained illnesses which forced her to retire from her career in the mental health field. Heather was born with several birth defects, including missing her right leg below the knee, several of her fingers and big to on her left foot. Heather was born two months premature and only weighed 3.4 ounces. Her father is also deceased. Heather's father had five bypasses on his heart at age 38, subsequently he died at ace 50 from a massive heart attack. His death was service related due to his Agent Orange exposure.
Kelly and Heather founded this organization because there are so many needs that are not being met in their peer group. The most pressing one, is the government has not acknowledged the devastating birth defects and illnesses in the children of male Vietnam Veterans, like they have in the children of female Vietnam Veterans. Currently, the government acknowledges eighteen plus birth defects in the children of female Vietnam Veterans. They only acknowledge one birth defect in the children of Male Vietnam Veterans. Spina Bifida. This, Kelly and Heather both feel is discrimination. Especially because they have so many reports of similar birth defects and illness.
COVVHA has also built a private support community for only children of Vietnam Veterans. It has over six hundred members. They educate and support each other in this group. Kelly and Heather want their members to understand that they are not alone. Many of them have lost, or are in the process of losing their Vietnam Veteran, plus they are dealing with birth defects or unexplained illnesses. They are also seeing an influx of children of Vietnam Veterans who start researching Agent Orange because their child, the grand child of the Vietnam Veteran has been born with an issue, or suddenly has a rare illness. COVVHA deals with a lot of issues, like grief, illness, anger and the like. The group also enjoys each others company and find many similar anecdotes of what it was like growing up with a Vietnam Veteran.
COVVHA is also involved in supporting international efforts in cleaning up, and disclosing locations of buried herbicide. Heather has traveled three times to Vietnam. She has visited two of the most poisonous hot spots still contaminated with Agent Orange, Da Nang, and Bein Hoa. Heather has also worked with organizations in Vietnam who support the on going health care of the Vietnamese children who are still being born today with birth defects due to their parents or grand parents exposure and the continued environmental pollutants. Recently Heather traveled to Okinawa, Japan to educate those seeking answers about reports that Agent Orange herbicide was stored, used and buried on the island of Okinawa. Building community with those who may have suffered due to Agent Orange in Japan is very important to the organization. COVVHA seeks unity in all those who have been affected by Agent Orange dioxin so that our community may build strength in numbers and that our voices would be heard by those who make decisions.
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