Friday, September 24, 2010

A Message to Congress and to Veterans Groups

This is a message to all those who read this from Congressional computers, and a notice to those who would overload the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009 the same way they did in 2008. We know you are reading this in Congress, as we see the domains "senate.gov" and "house.gov" among the list of domains from which those who have stopped to read this blog are doing so.

If you cannot afford to provide for your Veterans, then do not send our forces into harms way.

The Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War was formed because other folks could not keep from jumping their groups into the first version that was introduced in 2008. HR 6562, The Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008, was a bill introduced by Bob Filner, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. As written, it was a restoration of benefits authorized under the original Agent Orange Act of 1991, and then taken away illegally by the DVA. Any recipient of the Vietnam Service Medal or the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Service in Vietnam would have been eligible for presumptive exposure to herbicides. That included the three groups listed in the following paragraph.

It started immediately with the blockage of benefits for those who served in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Two years later, in 1993 the Air Force [with the exception of those in Operation Ranch Hand that did the spraying of herbicides] was removed from eligibility for benefits. In 2002, the Blue Water Navy was removed from eligibility, finalizing the DVA's policy changes that resulted in the "boots on the ground only" eligibility for presumptive exposure to Agent Orange [herbicides containing dioxin].

Now we have a new bill, introduced in 2009. It is worded incorrectly to be a restoration bill, because already outside groups have piled on. Consequently as it was in 2008 and has been from its introduction in May of 2009, the Agent Orange Equity Act is far too expensive, even for a spendthrift Congress. And thus it sits in committee, bloated and unable to move.

We have asked the Chairman repeatedly to alter the language and restore it to the 2008 version and limit it to that. At the same time we have asked the Chairman repeatedly to introduce a companion bill, a proposed Agent Orange Supplemental Act, that will authorize benefits for any Vietnam Era Veteran who served outside of the Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia theater of Combat Operations, but served in a location where herbicides were used, stored, or transshipped. Such exposure would be proven by military service records of duty stations and dates, and by comparison to Department of Defense documentation of the presence of herbicides at that location and during the date the Veteran served there. It is based on an already released DoD document, though that document needs to be updated.

We wrote that proposed Supplemental bill two years ago and made it available to the public, as well as providing Chairman Filner, Chairman Akaka, and all members of the Senate VA Committee with copies of it. Non-Vietnam Veterans have had two years to push that bill, or write their own. Instead, they foolishly pile onto a bill designed to restore benefits that once existed and were taken away. In doing so, they inflate the cost of the bill.

There is no excuse for what has been done to the current bill by other Veterans groups. It is selfish, and will result in everyone being left behind. We therefore call on all the other groups to support modifying the language immediately back to its restorative language and push for its immediate passage in both houses. It is the honorable and right thing to do.

To not do it would be despicable, selfish, and dishonorable.

Congress: Hear us! Our restoration bill will cost much less when confined to that. New figures from the DoD confirm there were only 229,000 Blue Water Navy sailors in the Vietnam War. Not over 500,000, and certainly not 800,000 as the DVA claimed in Federal Court. Do the right thing. Fix the bill to confine its coverage to only restore the benefits to those three groups of Vietnam Veterans. The science is there, the history is there, and the truth and honor is there. The Blue Water Navy was recommended for inclusion into presumptive exposure by the Institute of Medicine in their 2008 report released in July of 2009. The Blue Sky Air Force should be covered because all of their squadrons, Support, service, Combat and Logistics rotated into and out of bases in South Vietnam and Thailand during the war. The Veterans of TLC [Thailand, Laos and Cambodia] received the Vietnam Service Medal or its interchangeable Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Service in Vietnam. Indeed, TLC was sprayed very heavily along their borders, and on and around US bases, firebases and outposts.

There is NO EXCUSE to let this bill die again, for thousands of Veterans will die in poverty as a result, as they do every day it remains unenacted.

So far, it is a dishonorable, murderous shame for those who have taken actions resulting in the stoppage of this bill, or by their inactions failed to support it enough.

PASS THE CORRECTED VERSION OF HR 2254/S.1939 IMMEDIATELY.

And shame on you all for not caring enough to get it right. The early deaths in poverty and pain are on all your heads!


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 Obama 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

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

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3 comments:

  1. Anonymous00:33

    Very well put.Still are all going to die very quickly and the governmentwill be very happy to see us all go because they won't have to pay us anymore. We are part of the dying army.

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  2. Steve Malone08:47

    have been following this discussion group for several years, as you have always included my niche. I am a disabled Navy veteran suffering from many of the diseases currently on the list, which your discussion claimed to include; I was spraying on Guam in 1972. So now we are down to the wire, and trying to get approval for all and you ask me to step back and find my own??

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  3. Anonymous14:42

    Perhaps the Chairman already knows something, but lacks the courage to stand up and fight for us so that our benefits are not ever taken away again. That security comes with MOVING HR 2254 and S.1939 onto the floor for a vote.

    Chairman, with all due respect, your silence does tell the story.

    ReplyDelete