Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Fax Cover to Akaka and Burr

Last week we sent a fax to Senators Akaka and Burr, the two leaders of the Senate Committee for Veterans Affairs, asking them to submit a re-written version of S.2026 that was revised to do just the opposite of that bill: authorize retro benefits for Blue Water Navy Sailors back to the date of claim, thus safeguarding both the Nehmer decision and [hopefully] the Haas decision, which is apparently due November 7. [We will be in the courtroom and will flash the decision to the discussion groups ASAP that day.] [see: Akaka, Burr, Please Introduce This as a Courtesy to BWN Vets! ]

We thought it might be of interest to post the cover letter we used to fax the two Senators:
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18 September 2007

Senator Daniel Akaka, Chairman
Senator Richard Burr. Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs
[by FAX]

Senators,

Attached please find a proposed bill that we hope you will introduce, with favorable comments, as a courtesy to the Blue Water Navy Veterans of the Vietnam War.

This bill will affirm what everyone accepted in 1991 who the Agent Orange Act was meant to include. It will also affirm two court decisions that reversed the policy set by the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Nehmer vs. The U. S. Veterans Administration, April, 2002, and Haas vs. Nicholson of August, 2006.

United States Navy Veterans who fought in the Vietnam War did so with honor and loyalty, and with the understanding that, if injured in any way, they would be properly cared for by the United States Government.

Since 2002 this has not been the case. Indeed, the Secretaries of the Department of Veterans Affairs unilaterally acted to terminate benefits already being paid, and block any further claims by Navy Veterans. This was a reversal of policy and was done without benefit of Congressional action. Secretary Principi instituted the policy reversal and Secretary Nicholson has been zealously defending it in court, even after his own court, in effect, told him it was wrong!

The attached legislation is the opposite of S.2026 that Senator Akaka introduced last week as a courtesy to Secretary Nicholson and the White House.

Please introduce this bill to right the wrong that two courts, and the initial intent of Congress show is wrong.

Not only will you be serving your own constituents, you will be serving the nation, by improving the care given to our Veterans. In a time when the treatment of our Veterans has descended to a pitiable example of government’s wretched and convoluted policies, here is an opportunity to show our military’s new recruits that at least Congress knows when to do the right thing.

Sadly the Department of Veterans Affairs has become an adversary to our nation’s Veterans. The attitude permeates the system from top to bottom. If you gentleman do nothing else in the 100th Congress, please take giant steps to rectify that situation. We believe this legislation would be en emphatic and large step in the right direction.

Respectfully,
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We are extremely hopeful of the Haas case at this point. S.2026 was an act of desperation. Someone apparently told the VA and the White House, and the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs that the BWN Veterans were not paying attention. How wrong could they get? Senators Akaka and Burr, and other senators were inundated with faxes, emails, letters and calls denouncing the legislation. We have gotten responses from the American Legion and the Vietnam Veterans of America that insist that S.2026 will not see the light of day -- it will die in committee.

But we caution you all to be even more vigilant, as this piece of legislative garbage may very well wind up as an amendment or a rider on a totally unrelated piece of legislation.

BE VERY WATCHFUL OF CONGRESS. There are not many legislators who can be trusted to do the right thing and bury any attempt to undermine the Hass and Nehmer decisions. We must also be reserved about Haas, as it is , as yet, undecided, at least publically. We think S.2026 was an indication that the decision will be in our favor -- but we do not know that yet. Wait until November 7th.

A positive decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, that upholds the earlier decision by the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, would act as a judicial precedent in any court actions should S.2026 rear its ugly head again, as itself, or in some other format. The power of prayer applied to this weighty problem would be very welcome.

VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
-- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."
--President George Washington

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