Thursday, July 24, 2008

VNVets Address at Press Conference

Well folks, what a fascinating, energizing day! As usual "Foggy Bottom" was as humid as the Amazon Rain Forest, and about as inviting. But inside the Cannon House Office Building we were made to feel most welcome!

HR 6562 changes the language in the original location of the definition of service in Vietnam in Title 38 US Code to include both Blue Sky Air Force and Blue Water Navy Veterans, and does so retroactive to 1985. This overrides the recent court decision in the Haas case, and everything the DVA has done, and forces them to begin processing our claims, as soon as the bill is enacted.

We were fortunate enough to be asked to speak after Congressman Bob Filner, Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Below, along with some photos, is the text of our remarks to the press.

"Chairman Filner, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

"Good Afternoon. My name is William Davis. I served on a destroyer off Vietnam in 1966. My shipmates and I who are here today are a few of the men who served on board the more than 600 United States Navy and Coast Guard Vessels off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. We have come here today to support the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008. Most of us, however, could not come today because of physical and financial limitations.

"Speaking for all of us, we owe a debt of gratitude to Chairman Filner and his staff for pressing forward with this important piece of legislation. Thank you Chairman Filner.

"I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the people who were instrumental in getting us to this day. The wonderful folks at the National Veterans Legal Services Program, and our contact there, Rick Spataro; John Rossie, the head of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association, and all their fine members; our Steering Committee attorneys, John Wells and Mark Weitz; three wonderful ladies who have been in this fight for many years, Mrs. Taura King, Mrs. Susie Belanger, Mrs. Carol Olszanecki and the wives and widows of Blue Water Navy Veterans who have proven themselves a steady, powerful force to be reckoned with; to “Bluesman” and all those Blue Water Veterans who could not be here today.

"The Agent Orange Equity Act, as written, will restore to Navy Veterans of the Vietnam War presumptive exposure to Agent Orange, and thus service connection for any of the diseases accepted by the Department of Veterans Affairs as being Agent Orange caused.

"Not only does this legislation restore benefits taken from Sailors in 2002, it also restores the legacies we can leave behind us. I speak not only of the financial and medical benefits the Act will open to us, but also of the historical legacy. No more will a Blue Water, or Blue Sky Veteran receive the claim rejection letter with the words, “You did not serve in Vietnam.” We did serve there, and proudly. This is as important to us as are the benefits.

"We will continue to support this bill all the way through the legislative process, providing whatever help our resources can, and offering our prayers for its successful enactment.

"Once again we wish to thank Chairman Filner and his staff for their fine work in formulating and introducing the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008.
Thank 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

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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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