The following is a personal story submitted to Civilian Exposure and published as part of our new series: “Contamination Chronicles: Personal Stories of Exposure”. If you would like to submit your story, you may fill out our form here or send directly via email to share-@-civilianexposure.org.
My dad was a Vietnam hospital corpsman exposed to Agent Orange. He has three of the 13 types of cancer possible from it. I struggled for the last 9 years to help his body heal itself. As for me, I have MS, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and a spinal injury in 2008, resulting in needing stem cell procedure. But because of the Camp Lejeune water and the inoculations they gave us, my stem cell injection failed.
Before the Marine Corps and my reenlistment, I was an elite gymnast and martial artist in three different styles. I would donate my time to the Children’s Hospital Hemophilia Foundation of Michigan for fire, EMT, and police fundraisers, using my martial arts and gymnastics to draw attention and awareness to their needs.
Every year, the symptoms get worse. My whole body seizes up and I feel like the Tin Man. I have to take a chemical called PhosNak, 3000 mg of magnesium a day, three 5mg valiums a day, and heavy duty muscle relaxers 3 times a day. I’m 40 years old (41 this year). Was hospitalized at 36 and my muscles tightened then all my muscles from my feet up to my neck started twitching like a piston. U of M said that my genes have been mutated so I can’t hold on to minerals as long as a normal person.
I don’t know my own strength sometimes. When I recovered, at first it was kind of cool. I try to be optimistic but no one seems to have any answers. I just want to find the answers so I could help a little girl in Michigan whose father is a Marine hero.
It hurts my heart to see his little six-year-old suffering. She’s skinnier than an Aushwitz prisoner. I hear her scream in pain. I can’t even visit him. I signed up for this, she didn’t. An unfair part is that the US government has made it very clear to me since my childhood up to now that they don’t care. I watched my adopted father die of that Agent Orange and Camp Lejeune water.
At 12, I spent the next year-and-a-half on the streets until I found my biological father (hospital corpsman, Vietnam). He was sprayed with Agent Orange and it explains a lot to me why I couldn’t have kids. I was not sexually active like most 20 year olds. Now to this day, I can’t have caffeine of any sorts, nor alcohol, nor sex, nor children. I can have no useful stem cells. But I’m optimistic that natural plants hold the answer since these diseases.
These diseases taught me never to trust any government officials or anything related. It’s sad people say “thank you for your service”. I had to learn from other veterans you say thank you for your support, but I’ve moved to where I could be surrounded by woods and animals and not humans. It’s sad. I was in the Marine Corps as its biggest supporter and promoter. The higher brass could care less about us.
The brotherhood I found in the Marine Corps was shown to me by WW2, Vietnam, and other veterans that are no longer active duty. When I see veterans that are no longer active duty, I know I can trust them. I don’t trust any others unless they’re active duty. Everything has a cause and effect. In 2008, I got the letter of commitment signed by President Bush. I didn’t even pick it up from medical. I demonstrate one of the finest values of the Marine Corps, but the higher brass did not extend that to us or even the promises we made when we swore in at the MEPS building.
So when kids ask me am I following on social media, I usually don’t say anything. My father said if you don’t have nothing nice to say don’t say nothing at all, and that’s what I respond to people. I love to spread happiness, love, light and upliftment since 2009. I’ve got an offer on the television show Black Lightning on the CW. I couldn’t even go take an audition because my illness is so bad, and I care for my father when.
The VA said there’s no assistance for Vietnam veterans families who care for them. So far no help, so for the last 10 years, it’s just been me and Dad and two wonderful girls that moved in with us to care and help care for free.
I’ve learned I can only trust very few people now. I trust the animals in nature. I feel safer in pitch black woods versus daylight with humans, so I live out my life in my basement or I come out at night to go in the woods.
Note from the Editor: The account/editorial is verbatim from the author without edit, with only the omission of their name to preserve anonymity.
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