A Minnesota PBS Initiative
A Life-changing Legacy
Bob Feldman was an engineer and he was drafted into the Vietnam War. “Neither of us supported the war, but he felt a sense of duty,” says his wife, Nancy Feldman, the retired CEO of UCare for 20 years.
He felt that if he went, then his bothers wouldn’t have to. He was fairly behind-the-scenes stationed at and Army base in Bien How near Saigon.
“When he came home from the war, we thought that it was behind him… Until he got sick in spring of 2002.”
He was diagnosed with cancer, and didn’t show symptoms for 5 years. When it transformed into Lymphoma, it was a death sentence. While he was sick and trying to get veteran benefits, Nancy did research and found out that there had been four major spills of Agent Orange in the ground water at his base, unacknowledged by the Defense Department until about 2005. He drank and bathed in Agent Orange.
She says, “The Lymphoma that he died from was the first condition that was found by the National Science Institute to be connected to Agent Orange. So he was determined by the VA that he died of a service-related disability.”
They found the War Legacies Project online and used his backpay of about $40,000 to start a fund to help Vietnamese families suffering the effects of Agent Orange- especially children.
Feldman Cows are all over Vietnam. I love this!
She says that the effects in Vietnam are ongoing and there have been genetic mutations that grandchildren are being born with. Bob knew about this and wanted to do this. Contributions went to his fund. Nancy receives about $1,300 a month as a spouse of someone who died of service-related disability. She uses this to help those who are suffering effects in Vietnam. Families are chosen through Red Cross.
It is a one-on-one fund that has helped over 450 families buy bicycles, get Internet connection, help people tutor others, take care of themselves, and buy cows because cows can keep families out of poverty. “Feldman Cows are all over Vietnam. I love this!”
She says, “We can’t change what happened and dwelling on that isn’t helpful, but this is something we can do and is a great source of comfort. People to people connection is important.” “It’s the tribute that Bob wanted.”
Nancy's story was captured with the help of TPT's Minnesota Remembers Vietnam team in 2018.
Story Themes: Agent Orange, Memorial, Return to Vietnam, VA Medical Center, Video, Wife