Target 8: Tampa woman traces family tragedies to Agent Orange, Camp Lejeune

Tampa woman traces family tragedies to Agent Orange, Camp Lejeune
Tampa woman traces family tragedies to Agent Orange, Camp Lejeune

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – For nearly 40 years a Tampa woman has wondered, what happened. Now, as news about the effects of Agent Orange and contamination at Camp Lejeune go public, she tells Target 8 she is beginning to piece together a very disturbing puzzle.

In 1973, at age 19, Cynthia Garay, met a young U.S. Marine in the Philipines, named Daniel Scott.

“He was in Vietnam before I met him,” Ms. Scott said.

Fresh off a combat tour, they met,  fell in love and married the next year. In 1975, the Marines transferred Daniel to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Cynthia was one month pregnant.

“Then we moved to Midway Park, in Camp Lejeune housing,” she said.

Camp Lejeune, where for decades, hundreds of thousands of Marines, their families and civilians were exposed to water laced with cancer-causing chemicals.

“We drink the water from the faucet,” Ms. Scott remembered.

While there,  she gave birth to her first child. The baby had one leg and only three fingers on each hand.

“I was scared, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know who to ask,” she said.

9 months later, her husband, Daniel, died suddenly.  Alone with a child, in a country where the language was foreign to her, she says she never really knew how her husband died.

“They said,  Oh, after he got buried, it say cardiac arrest,” she said of the death certificate.

For four decades, Cynthia Scott wondered why and how all this happened.

“When I see the news, I kind of put things together,” she explained.

Daniel was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Daniel, her and her unborn baby were all exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

And I said to myself,”Oh my God, I’m glad I didn’t die.  I’m glad my son didn’t die because I drink the same water and it goes through the baby,” Ms. Scott added.

According to Cynthia, she has since developed kidney, liver and heart problems.

Earlier this month the Department of Veterans Affairs agreed that if Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune developed these diseases; kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, adult leukemia, liver cancer, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, aplastic anemia, and other myelodysplastic syndromes, they receive complete medical treatment and qualify for disability benefits.

Dependents like Cynthia Scott and her son do not.

“I wonder that, you know, the Agent Orange and the poison they put together, I believe my son, that’s why he born like that,” she said.

Convincing the V.A. to agree to provide medical care and disability benefits for those stricken with the presumptive diseases has been a years-long process.  Convincing it to take the next step, to provide for children and families, may take even longer.

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