When Sheela Evans’ husband was dying from glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor they believed was caused by Agent Orange, she promised him she would make things right.
Agent Orange is a chemical that was used by the US military to remove leaves from trees in the Vietnam War.
Initially, the VA rejected her benefits claim. But she had kept a notebook of evidence on her husband’s service and illness. So she sued the VA and eventually won the case.
Evans began to receive phone calls, emails and letters from widows and vets who had glioblastoma. She knew there was a need for people to know more.
“I didn’t realize the impact across our nation that there were so many Vietnam veterans with glioblastoma.”
She has since written a book, sold T-shirts and coordinated community events in the name of spreading awareness.
“The exposure needs to be out there because we’re losing too many. Vietnam Veterans are dying each day.”
This year, Evans plans to help co-host the Quilt of Tears Memorial in Branson during Veteran’s Week. Vietnam Veteran Henry Snider and his wife Sheila, founders of Agent Orange Victim Support Network, will drive from Florida to showcase their series of quilts in November.
John Wells, a Vietnam Veteran and lawyer based in Washington, D.C. says its important for survivors to educate the public about Agent Orange and advocate for policy changes.
“Well, the biggest thing they can do is stay in touch with their members of Congress and their US Senators to try and push for toxic exposure benefits.”
The VA officially acknowledges harmful effects about Agent Orange.
In Branson, Evans said she feels the widows she meets are like family.
“I meet them in the elevator at the hospital, at the restaurants. I meet them going out shopping. I carry my card with me with my name on it, phone number, email and ask them to join my group and several of them have joined our group. I just want them to know that they’re not alone out there and if they need help, we have some DSOs, like the VFW and DAV, in our group that can help them with their claims.”
The display of memorial quilts will take place at Balls Park of America Veteran’s Village in Branson November 5-10.