2017 Winners

                                                        

              

Kylie Shea

 

Northland Vietnam Veterans Association Scholarship

Can one mistake change millions of lives? My life, like millions of other people, has been affected by the defoliant Agent Orange. The chemical was used in the Vietnam War and has affected many lives years ago and even affects people today. Agent Orange was used to eliminate forest cover for the Viet Cong troops, North Vietnamese, and the crops that might have fed them. After the United States sprayed about nineteen million gallons of the defoliant across millions of acres across Vietnam. The defoliant caused many health issues such as tumors, rashes, birth defects, cancer, physiological problems among not only the Vietnamese people, but our own Vietnam Veterans. Agent Orange is twenty times more potent than the recommended amount that a pesticide should be. Today the lingering effects of Agent Orange can be seen many people; Veterans, Vietnamese army, and both their descendants. I’ve seen many videos over the internet of children in Vietnam who have horrible birth defects because the chemicals have lingered in their parents bodies. The chemical can also linger in rivers, dirt, and other resources years after it is sprayed, causing more danger to everyone in the area. These children affected have so many varieties of defects such as clubbed body parts, bulging eyes, missing eyes at birth, misshapen heads, and other defects. I have seen the effects of Agent Orange myself, my grandfather fought in the Vietnam war and over the years showed symptoms from the war and the defoliant. He suffered from PTSD and dementia, both mental illness’ slowly took his life away. Million of people are watching their loved ones get sick and perish from the aftermath of this horrible defoliant surging in their bodies, years after being exposed to it. The memories that I have with my grandfather and the way he got sick will stay with me forever. My grandpa’s life and my whole entire family’s life has been affected by this chemical. Agent Orange took my grandfathers life and thousands of others. Even though the defoliant did its job during the Vietnam War and got rid of all the foliage that was necessary to make and even playing field for us and the enemy, the effects of this has caused more damage than its worth. The chemical also helped find enemy bunkers , after all the plant life was gone the buildings that were not able to be seen before were in plain sight and could be easily dealt with. Millions of lives are now at stake because of the mistakes our government made. This chemical was not good for the environment and everyone involved in the war. Even today there are still places that are bare because the plant life was not able to grow back. The pros of Agent Orange are sparse while the cons are plentiful, this chemical caused a lot of to thousands of people. Personally, with the side effects I have seen, Agent Orange was not worth the damage it caused. 

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I would like to thank the Northland Vietnam Veterans Association for the scholarship awarded to me this spring. I am so thankful for the amazing opportunity to write an essay that I am passionate about. My essay was about the sacrifices that our veterans and their families unknowingly made when traveling to Vietnam. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Vietnam Veterans and other Veterans for their service. Without them going off to war, our lives wouldn’t be the same. Thank you Veterans for fighting for our lives and for making amazing opportunities for future generations through your kindness and generosity. This scholarship is going to be put to good use this fall at the University of St. Thomas. Thank you again for providing me an amazing opportunity to learn and grow!

Sincerely, 

Kylie L. Shea

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Emily Thoreson

The Vietnam War was a very difficult one for the Americans who risked their lives to serve their country and help protect the values it stands for. One of the reasons why the war was so difficult is because the military was fighting in the jungles of Southern Vietnam against an army that used guerilla warfare tactics. 

 To help the war effort the US government decided to use various herbicides to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam in order to make the enemy easier to spot, and to destroy crops the enemy could use for food. The most heavily used herbicide in Vietnam was Agent Orange, and an estimated 20 million gallons were sprayed from 1962 to 1971. 

 But, it was later found out that Agent Orange caused severe health effects in humans. 2.6 million Americans were exposed to, and possibly harmed by Agent Orange. I am fortunate enough to have two grandfathers who served our country during the Vietnam War, and I am even more fortunate that neither of them ever set foot in Vietnam, so they were never exposed to Agent Orange or developed any diseases as a result. 

 When I asked my grandfather, who served in the Navy on the USS Monrovia, if the government made the right decision in using Agent Orange, he said: “Vietnam was a very difficult war for us. The Viet Cong were very tricky fighters and we were fighting them in the middle of the jungle. I do think Agent Orange helped reduce American casualties and that the government made the right decision in using it. But, I only wish they could have found a better chemical that didn’t cause so many problems in the servicemen.” 

 The government and the chemical companies that produced Agent Orange were slow to accept responsibility for its side effects. In 1984 several large chemical companies who produced the herbicides used in Vietnam reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed on behalf of 2.4 million

veterans for $180 million dollars. In 1991 President George Bush signed the Agent Orange Act, which  stated that some diseases associated with the herbicides had to be treated by the VA. 

 In addition to the devastating effects on American soldiers, Agent Orange is also believed to have caused cancer and other illnesses in Vietnamese citizens who were exposed to the herbicide during the war, as well as birth defects in over half a million Vietnamese children. Agent Orange has also destroyed vast areas of the Vietnamese countryside that will take another century to heal. 

The use of Agent Orange was a key component of our war effort in Vietnam, and it helped prevent the death of many of our soldiers by making the enemy easier to spot. But now its consequences have to be dealt with. The VA should treat every veteran that served in Vietnam, no matter what disease they may have And the government should begin a more comprehensive effort to help heal the environment in Vietnam that Agent Orange destroyed. 

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Dear Scholarship Committee, 

First I would like to say thank you for awarding this scholarship to me. It’s truly an honor to have received this award. 

Next year I am going to be attending the College of Saint Scholastica, where I plan to major in Communications. With my degree in Communications, I want to attain a job in the journalism field, preferably as a reporter. 

I have always appreciated the sacrifices those who serve our country make, but the research and interviews I conducted for my essay made me appreciate those who serve our country even more. 

Sincerely, 

Emily Thoreson

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Shelbey Swinda

Northland Vietnam Veterans

Memorial Foundation Scholarship

9 May 2017

Agent Orange

 Agent orange is a highly toxic herbicide defoliant that was used by the United States military during the Vietnam War in 1961-1971 in regions of Vietnam as a part of the herbicide warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand. C123 twin-engine aircraft carriers sprayed millions of gallons in South Vietnam. It also was used by the British military to defoliate regions of Malaya in the early 1950s during the Malayan Emergency of 1948-1960. Agent orange was an equal mixture of herbicide 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D. A herbicide is a chemical substance used to control unwanted plants, and sometimes can be used to clear waste ground, industrial sites, railways and railway embankments, and construction sites so that any plant that comes into contact with the material will be killed. A defoliant differs from a herbicide in that the former seeks mainly to strip leaves from plants, and the latter is used to destroy or inhibit the growth of certain plants. Foliage is anything that has to do with leaves, greenery, vegetation, verdure, etc. After my interview with Vietnam Veteran, Tom Grabanski, I have found out the pros and cons of the usage of defoliant Agent Orange during the time he was exposed to it in the war.

 Tom stated that the only pro of agent orange during the Vietnam war was “to clear anything and everything that grew out of the ground that could have been a possible cover or hiding place for the enemy/opposition.” Agent orange was capable of killing everything in its path in just a few days, and besides that – nothing good came from it.

 The cons according to Tom was that “the people who handled it, dispersed it, lived near the location of the contaminated areas, or breathed it in all have died, or have been suffering for MANY years.” It is such a terrible thing to hear that this chemical can have such a major impact on everything that lies in its path or around it. The list of the cons of agent orange go on forever. Agent orange causes negative health effects such as cancer, diabetes, deformities in children, eyesight damage, rashes, muscle pain, respiratory problems, myeloma, Hodgkin’s disease, and so much more. Tom told me that he has “intense, almost unbearable muscle pain and diabetes.” He has been going to the doctor for years to get medicine such as Cymbalta and Gabapentin that are organic so he doesn’t have to “endure the side effects of the other medicines that are addictive.” Another con about this chemical is that it had a “prolonged life,” and because of that, Vietnam Veterans are dying every day because of the defoliant agent orange. “It is killing us slowly,” stated Tom, and is hurting them more and more each day.

 Thankfully, there is no use of agent orange today, and our world has outlawed that nasty chemical. Roundup is a weed killer that is very safe and is used today instead of harmful chemicals, and the militaries around the world are not messing with those kind of intense strategies any longer.

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Shelbey Swinda

Northland Vietnam Veterans

Memorial Foundation Scholarship

27 June 2017

Thank You

Dear Northland Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation Scholarship Committee:

 I so greatly appreciate that I have been chosen to be a recipient of this amazing scholarship. I am looking forward to attending Bemidji State University in the fall, and this money will help me through my new journey. I will be beginning my major in Elementary Education, and I cannot wait to start! It is such a blessing to have been a part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Program in Duluth. The meal prepared for the scholarship recipients was very good, and the cake to follow was scrumptious! I am lucky that I got to stay and listen to the other students read their essays aloud, and also read mine to the families that traveled to this wonderful event. This event meant so much to my family, my grandpa Quentin Johnson, and I. Thank you so much for choosing me, and I will never ever forget the experience I had with the past Vietnam Veterans and their families.

        Sincerely,

        Shelbey Swinda

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Kennedy Grimstad

Medical Advances in the Vietnam War that Saved my Grandfather’s Life

    I wouldn’t tell my cousins or sister, but I am my Grandpa Bill’s favorite grandchild. He and I are a lot alike and I can’t imagine my life without him in the stands at my sporting events, going on hunting and fishing trips together, or playing yard games at the lake. None of this would have been possible had it not been for the medical care he received while serving his country during the Vietnam War. During the one year, eleven months and twenty-one days he served, he was injured multiple times. The advances in medical care during the Vietnam War that saved his life continue to save lives today. Some of these medical advances include the use of helicopters evacuations, long range radios, and the Emergency Medical System.

    One of the biggest medical advancement from the Vietnam War was the use of helicopters as air ambulances. The use of these helicopters reduced the amount of time that it took for wounded soldiers to receive treatment. My grandpa had experience with these helicopters. After being wounded he was evacuated on one of these helicopters and it was shot down and had to be carried off by a different helicopter to safety. Today most major hospitals use helicopters as a means to get patients to medical care quickly.

    Another important medical innovation from the Vietnam War, was the use of long range radios. They reached distances up to five miles and reduced the response time to reach wounded soldiers. These radios also allowed people to relay information to the medical staff about the injured soldier while on their way to the rescue. The term “Dust Off” became the code that was used to signal an air evacuation and is still used today.

    Lastly, another important advancement during the Vietnam War was the use of the Emergency Medical System (EMS). The EMS refers to medical professionals that give treatment to soldiers before and during their transportation to the hospital. These medical professionals were able to perform vital care in-route when seconds count. This innovation saved numerous lives allowing injured soldiers to receive treatment almost immediately, including CPR and preventing death from blood loss, both of which my grandfather received by EMS. The use of the universal donor blood, type O negative, was also introduced during the Vietnam War and is still used for trauma victims today.

    I am planning on majoring in Biomedical Engineering. As a Biomedical Engineer it would be my job to help improve the lives of others by solving medical problems. I would like to use my skills to work with wounded veterans and help improve their lives after injury or even work on preventing soldiers from injury in the first place by designing more protective equipment. I hope to one day invent something that will help save somebody else’s life like the medical advancements during the Vietnam War saved my grandfather's.

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Dear Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation,

I want to thank you for awarding me with the Northland Vietnam Veterans Frank Budd, M.D. Foundation Scholarship. This money will help me to achieve my goals of pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering at the University of Iowa. I also would like to thank you for the ceremony, it was a very special night for my family and I. This scholarship process gave me the opportunity to talk further with my grandfather about his experiences in Vietnam and learn more about what he went through as an injured soldier.

Sincerely,

Kennedy Grimstad