Same. Well, same until Dad died in March. I’m 43 and just now beginning to comprehend what that war left in its wake.

I always thought it was just our screwed up family. I’m finding out it is our entire generation, to some extent.

Dad suffered myriad devastating effects of Agent Orange; since his death, after watching my mother fight to keep the benefits the VA swore up and down she would never be without, because the coroner doesn’t want to label his death “service related” because it had a component of addiction…I’ve done some research. Agent Orange is now believed to also affect the children of Vietnam vets; my reproductive issues, my younger brother’s athsma…depression, substance abuse, tremors, kidney stones. All part of the legacy left to us by war. Then there is, of course, the psychological trauma left from a terrorized childhood: loaded guns left under seat cushions, for “protection from intruders”, safety off…beatings for no reason…and always the fear.

Mom finally escaped his tyranny, which I now recognize as the tyranny of the US government, because my daughter is 15 and my dad was 18 when he went over there.. What the fuck did they expect him to bring back with him? She escaped, and the government dumps her, like we didn’t live in a war zone, too.

It’s unconscionable.

And even after it all, I miss him. I can recognize now that a child was sent to murder an enemy he didn’t understand. I recognize people don’t come back from that without demons they pass down to their children. A lot of things are on him, but not everything.

Sometimes I wonder who he would have been if he hadn’t gone.

I got off track. Your response just sounded so familiar.

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know I want it to be spelled right and punctuated correctly. I guess that’s something.

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