Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Time to Mail!

We have expressed many times that it is time to march. However, in thinking through the matter, and with the assistance of two able advisors, Chuck and Rich, we have re-thought this position. Most of the Blue Water Navy Veterans are too sick to go anywhere, let alone make a march to Washington.

So we have another idea.

Let the post office do the marching.

It is time to mail your Vietnam Service Medal to Senator Akaka, and to mail your Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry [the red and gold one you had to buy] and/or your Vietnam Campaign Medal [the green and white one] to Representative Filner.

Why them, and not the DVA or the White House?

Because Congress is the only entity that can fix our problem while the court case is pending. Because Congress has, for years, failed to instruct the Department of Veterans Affairs as to its intent when it wrote "military, naval, and air service in the Republic of Vietnam" into the Agent Orange Act of 1991.

Granted, in 1991 very few folks had any idea that Blue Water Navy Veterans had been exposed, or that the Agent Orange Diseases [and others] would take so long to manifest themselves becuse of the indirect way we were exposed. Nevertheless, somehow, the DVA got the idea that Congressional intent was to include not just Blue Water Navy Veterans, but also anyone else who had received the Vietnam Service Medal [VSM]. That was the policy made by the DVA based on its own interpretation of the Agent Orange Act.

It took them two years to cut Air Force personnel out of Presumptive Eligibility for Exposure to Agent Orange. Congress didn't squeak then, nor did it squeak in 2002 when the DVA divested itself of Blue Water Navy personnel. And it has not uttered more than lip service since.

Taking their cue from the DVA, apparently those of us who served on Blue Water Ships did not serve in Vietnam. Of course,
the 58 men who were Killed in Action on Blue Water Ships must have been fighting some other enemy, in some other war.

And so we offer this plan:

Mail the following letter, accompanied by your VSM to Senator Akaka:

Senator Daniel Akaka
United States Senate
141 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Akaka,

As the Department of Veterans Affairs has interpreted the Agent Orange Act of 1991 to preclude presumptive exposure to dioxins in Blue Water Navy Veterans, and as the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has opined that such a definition is a "permissible" one, and as Congress, by its silence, has failed in its responsibility to make clear what the definition of "Service in Vietnam" is, I am returning the Vietnam Service Medal I received for Blue Water Naval Service in the Vietnam War. Apparently I did not serve in Vietnam, according to the DVA, the USCAFC, and apparently the US Congress.

Respectfully,

[sign your name]
Mail the following letter, accompanied by your Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry [the Red and Gold Medal you had to buy], and your Vietnam Campain Medal [the Green and White one you received for being there more than six months],to Representative Filner:

Congressman Robert Filner
2428 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Filner,

As the Department of Veterans Affairs has interpreted the Agent Orange Act of 1991 to preclude presumptive exposure to dioxins in Blue Water Navy Veterans, and as the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has opined that such a definition is a "permissible" one, and as Congress, by its silence, has failed in its responsibility to make clear what the definition of "Service in Vietnam" is, I am returning the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and/or the Vietnam Campaign Medal I received for Blue Water Naval Service in the Vietnam War. Apparently I did not serve in Vietnam, according to the DVA, the USCAFC, and apparently the US Congress.

Respectfully,

[sign your name]
Apparently, the only way to get Congress to move is to shame them publicly.

So make sure you write a letter to the editor of your newspaper letting them know what you are doing and why. It is time these bastards were exposed. We are tired of lip service and tired of being denied.

So spread the word, shipmates! Tell anyone who served in Vietnam about this effort, and others who were not BLue Water are welcome to send their medals back as well.

Two five dollar mailings are less expensive and less strenuous and less stressful than a trip to DC.

Now, one last step:

Send a copy of your letters, with the following cover to the New York Times:

Editor
New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

Editor,

Please note the attached copies of letters to Senator Daniel Akaka, and Representative Bob Filner, Chairmen respectively of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees. We are returning our Vietnam medals in protest of being excluded from Benefits under the Agent Orange Act of 1991. Blue Water Navy Veterans of Vietnam are dying from Agent Orange Related diseases at a higher rate than other Vietnam Veterans at this time. We were exposed through our drinking water and occasional drifting spray while we operated close inshore.

We hope you will see fit to alert the public to this injustice.

Further information on this issue can be found at http://bluewaternavy.org/, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association, or at the VNVets Blog, http://NVVets.blogspot.com.

Thank you,

[sign your name]
You may also wish to send copies to other newspapers:

Editor
Los Angeles Times
202 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, California 90012

Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20071

General Manager
Fox News Channel
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

General Manager,
Cable News Network
One CNN Center
Atlanta, GA 30303

Michelle Malkin
c/o Creators Syndicate
5777 W. Century Blvd.
Suite 700,
Los Angeles, CA 90045
That should be enough to get some national attention finally. Feel free to send copies to your local newspaper and other national media outlets.

It's in your hands, shipmates. Remember your training...we all pull together, or we'll sink. This is your legacy we are dealing with here. It goes beyond benefits, it is returning value to your service in the Vietnam War. Do not allow the corruptors in the government to steal that from you.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield." -- 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

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

14 comments:

  1. angmagsvet08:38

    SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD IDEA, BUT I THINK YOUR GOING TO FIND A LOT OF GUYS THAT ARE NOT WILLING TO GIVE UP THEIR MEDALS FOR VARIOUS REASONS.WHAT ABOUT SENDING THEM AND THE MEDIA A COPY OF OUR DD-214 AND CIRCLE OR HIGHLIGHT THE MEDALS.IF WE'RE WILLING TO SPEND 10 BUCKS, WE CAN SEND 10 COPIES OF THE LETTERS AND INUNDATE THEM WITH MAIL.THAT SHOULD SHAKE THEM UP A LITTLE.

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  2. That would go too easily into the circular file.

    There is no substitute for the real thing. Many Vets have already said they will send their medals, others who already trashed them, have said they will buy new ones to send in.

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  3. Anonymous19:02

    OK. How about the 74 men aboard the USS Frank E. Evans DD754 who were killed on June 2, 1969 in the South China Sea?? Add that to the 58 Blue Water sailors killed in action and now you have 132 lost!! The Evans was involved in shelling the Viet Nam coastline. But, I guess that doesn't matter to the DVA since they weren't "In Country".

    M. Buchner
    Survivor's Wife

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  4. Unfortunately, those men died in a training exercise, not in combat. This does not diminish their sacrifice in the least, but when counting combat deaths, they would not be included. Sorry.

    They were not the only ones, either.

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  5. Anonymous21:02

    Maybe some kind of survey list to show how many sent in their medals would be interesting. Also include an option to list a Congressman/Senator/Media sent to. I'm sure the statistics would be stagering........

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  6. Anonymous23:12

    I'm not sure about this "Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry" medal you're talking about. I know what the medal is of course but don't see what it has to do with Blue Water Vets.

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  7. The Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry was given through the US government to those who served in defense of the Republic of Vietnam [now defunct, of course].
    It pretty much followed the same criteria as the Vietnam Service Medal.

    Since the VA, the Courts, the Preident and his Administration, and an immovable Congress all insist [albeit tacitly in some cases] that we did not serve "IN" Vietnam, it is included for Operation Medal Return.

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  8. Anonymous15:54

    I sent my VN Service Medal and my RVN Campaign Medals in but the numbers of others who did so is a bit disappointing. Maybe we're not as together as we'd like to think we are?? Somehow I don't think 20 odd medals is going to make too big an impression.

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  9. I agree. I was thinking along the same lines when I saw your comment and will post more about it tonight/tomorrow!

    Thanks for the nudge.

    Keep the failth.

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  10. Anonymous18:59

    A few days ago, I posted regarding the RVN Gallantry Cross Medal, do date that post seems to have disappeared. Do you dispute what I told you? Perhaps you are doing some checking of your own. On the other hand, I certainly hope you aren't practicing some sort of personal censorship.
    Thanks

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  11. I hate to disappoint you but yes we practice censorship. That is what moderating comments is all about. However, the only censorship exercised here is to ensure comments are common sense on topic.

    If you will simply allow the comments time to load, and look about four or five comments up you will find your comment, posted shortly after you sent it, and followed by my response.

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  12. Anonymous20:50

    Sorry, that's not the post I'm referring to.....I mean the one I posted telling you that the RVN Gallantry Cross Medal you refer to was, in fact a unit citation, and was the ribbon only with a palm device and a gold rim. Many, including Blue Water Sailors went out and mistakenly bought the medal. I fact, very few Blue Water vets actually were awarded the actual medal. I thought you might be checking the awards manual or something to see if I was right or wrong.

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  13. Well, the comment I pointed to was the only one I received.

    As far as the CoG, as far as I know it was never "issued" only awarded. If you wwanted to wear it you had to buy it.

    Mine came with a plain ribbon.

    You ARE referring to the Unit citation, which was only the ribbon in the gold frame. My understanding is that it was awarded to specific units, while the medal I refer to was awarded to anyone who, essentially, received the VSM - same criteria.

    IF you want to discuss this further I suggest you use the "email me link".

    Thanks!

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  14. Anonymous13:00

    i in fact served in vietnam on board two different ships the uss m.c. fox dd-829 in 66-67 and the uss stienaker dd-863 in 67-68 and was awarded the RVN Gallantry cross with Palm unit citation while serving on board the steinaker according to the bureau of navy personell when i requested replacement medals and ribbons and was told i rated that ribbon and medal and also i was told by my former commanding officer on steinaker in a letter he wrote for me for the VA in my claim for Parkinson disease and also for my diabetes and the VA has conceded to my service in nam.so yes i am one of the so called blue water navy vets.

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