Friday, April 18, 2008

What's next and a strategy

Based on our hit counter in the past few days there is growing interest in the situation with the VA's treatment of the Blue Water Navy Veterans of the Vietnam War. We think that the following is the likely course that the VA will follow in the coming weeks as a result of their M21-1 manual recission.

Essentially, what they are saying is they are going to change the 38 CFR reference to exclude us. First though, sometime in May they will put their change out for comment, just like the manual rescission that they put out. Then they'll make another response, like this one, and go ahead and exclude us from the benefits.

This of course is all contingent on the outcome of the Haas case. At this point they are acting as though they expect to win the Haas case.

We think otherwise. Still, they may, depending on what the Haas decision is, go right ahead and change the 38 CFR reference anyway. Indeed, I would not put it past the VA to make the change regardless of what the Haas decision is.

We all ABSOLUTELY MUST be on our guard against this by being pro-active.

The one single solution that would resolve the issue once and for all would be to have Congress enact the
Agent Orange Fair Compensation Act.

How do we accomplish this? Simple: direct, face-to-face contact with your Congressional Representative, and your Senators.

Find other Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans if you can, and make an appointment to go see your Congressional Representative and DEMAND he get on board with a FAST TRACK passage of the
Agent Orange Fair Compensation Act, and personally hand them a copy. Read it with them. Explain that the original intent of Congress in the 1991 Agent Orange Act was to include the Blue Water Navy Veterans as they specifically wrote "service in the waters off shore." Had it not been their intent they would NOT have included that phrase. DRIVE THAT POINT HOME. Remind your representative that this is a big election year, and even though your Representative may not be running for re-election, his Party has much at stake in November. We want the law enacted before the Conventions.

Then go repeat the process with your Senator.

DO NOT deal with staffers, deal with the politicians directly, face-to-face. The more Veterans that go with you [and don't forget to take your wives along!] the more weight your visit will carry.

To access the
Agent Orange Fair Compensation Act click here. Feel free to print it out or copy and paste it. Make sure you take several copies along. It should fit on one page.

We need someone in Congress to sponsor it. Ask your politician to do so.

We will have to hit nearly every member of Congress to accomplish this. They need to know there is political power behind the effort.

If you can, take a member of the press/media along. That will also have an effect. If you can't get one to go along, arrange to meet with them after you leave your Congressional Representative/Senator, and make sure you let your Rep/Senator know where you are going after leaving him, and why you are seeing the press.

Don't let these people snow you with "I'll look into it." Don't leave their office without a commitment.

Above all, be polite, but firm. Nothing turns a politician off than someone leaning into him red-faced, swearing, and demanding. If you lose your temper, you've lost your battle.

Finally, don't make any threats beyond the political ones mentioned above.

We need political pressure, and political friends, not political enemies.

Go forth, be bold, be assertive, and accomplish great things.

This is as great a battle as any you fought in Vietnam.

Let's put this puppy to rest once and for all.

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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