Sunday, August 03, 2008

Article: A Veteran Needs Your Help

The following article appeared in the Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, Alabama, July 27, 2008. It's author, Tom Ensey, has graciously allowed us to reproduce the article here. We do so as a sample of how the local media can work on our behalf, as well as an excellent piece of journalism.

Saddle up, River Region. A neighbor needs your help.

I'm passing along a request for prayer, and if you'd write a letter to your congressman or senators, that sure would help, too.

Joe Moody is a Vietnam Navy veteran who lives in Deatsville. Like thousands of oth­er blue-water sailors who served our country during that unpopu­lar conflict, he has been denied service-related treatment for dia­betes mellitus, one of the diseases connected to Agent Orange, a highly toxic herbicide used in Vietnam. He has other diseases and medical problems associated with the diabetes and the poison.

Joe has had medical costs taken out of his Social Security check be­cause the rules of the Veterans Ad­ministration say only those who set foot in Vietnam are entitled to medical benefits related to Agent Orange.

But scientific studies show compelling evidence the Agent Or­ange that was sprayed in massive concentrations on the Vietnam mainland drifted offshore and were concentrated in U.S. ships' drinking water by the desalina­tion process. Too, sailors routinely handled supplies that had been ex­posed to Agent Orange.

Air Force and Navy veterans who flew over Vietnam have not been eligible for Agent Orange-re­lated medical benefits, either. Nei­ther have American veterans who served in Thailand. And they won't be, unless something changes.

Change may be in the wind.

As of last week, Joe has new hope -- somebody in Congress heard the cry for help.

Joe has not had much reason for hope. He has had the door slammed in his face repeatedly by Veterans Affairs officials. Earlier this summer, after years of ups and downs, a lawsuit by a Blue Wa­ter Navy commander against the DVA finally fizzled.

In desperation, Joe and several hundred members of bluewater­navy.org mailed their Vietnam Service medals to Sen. Daniel Aka­ka of Hawaii and Rep. Bob Filner of California, respective chairmen of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs committees.

Chairman Filner called a news conference Wednesday to promote a bill that will provide benefits to all Vietnam veterans.

"If they were there, we should care," he said in a statement.

"We owe it to our veterans to fulfill the promises made to them as a result of their service," Filner said. "If, as a result of service, a veteran was exposed to Agent Or­ange and it has resulted in failing health, this country has a moral obligation to care for each veteran the way we promised we would. And as a country at war, we must prove that we will be there for all of our veterans, no matter when they serve."

The veterans have been cheat­ed of their benefits, Filner said in the statement. Congress must act.

The Agent Orange Equity Act (HR 6562) is intended to clarify the law so every service member who received a Vietnam Service Medal, or who otherwise deployed "to land, sea or air in the Republic of Vietnam is fully covered by the comprehensive Agent Orange laws Congress passed in 1991."

Filner's bill probably faces an uphill battle -- but it should not. It transcends politics. It's the right thing to do.

Joe Moody volunteered to serve his country when that was not a popular thing to do. Vietnam vet­erans got the cold shoulder from their country and countrymen when they came home years ago and that hasn't changed since.

I believe most of our elected of­ficials would want this law to pass if they know about it, and I believe most of you would, too.

Rep. Terry Everett has an office at 3500 East Blvd., Suite 250, Montgomery 36116.

Two more local gentlemen, state Rep. Jay Love and Mayor Bobby Bright, are running for Mr. Everett's seat. Tell them what you think.

You can e-mail Sen. Richard Shelby at senator@shelby.sena­te.gov, or write him at 110 Hart Senate Office Building, Washing­ton, D.C. 20510.

You can write Sen. Jeff Sessions at 335 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510-0104.

Tom Ensey can be reached at 240-0192 or by e-mail at ten­sey@gannett.com with ideas or suggestions for columns.

http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008807270308#pluckcomments

Great article Tom! And thanks for letting us post it here. Perhaps we will hear more from you soon.

Please take note that Tom has included local candidates for a Congressional seat. This is an excellent idea as taking care of our Veterans is, as it should be, a huge campaign issue.

And do not forget your state assemblymen, who do have the contact ability to push this cause upward into Congress at both the House and Senate levels. Make this election a Veterans Election at ALL levels of government. Push for resolutions in your State House that will be sent to all members of your state caucus in Washington!

And go visit them personally while they are home in August! Don't put it off.

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

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

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