Saturday, October 01, 2011

Sens Gillibrand & Graham introduce BWN Bill S.1629

New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined with South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to introduce S.1629.

Here is the text of the bill:

112th CONGRESS
1st Session
S. 1629
To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
September 23, 2011
Mrs. GILLIBRAND (for herself and Mr. GRAHAM) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs
A BILL
To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Agent Orange Equity Act of 2011'.
SEC. 2. CLARIFICATION OF PRESUMPTIONS OF EXPOSURE FOR VETERANS WHO SERVED IN VICINITY OF REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM.
(a) Compensation- Subsections (a)(1) and (f) of section 1116 of title 38, United States Code, are amended by inserting `(including the territorial seas of such Republic)' after `served in the Republic of Vietnam' each place it appears.
(b) Health Care- Section 1710(e)(4) of such title is amended by inserting `(including the territorial seas of such Republic)' after `served on active duty in the Republic of Vietnam'.
(c) Effective Date- The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall take effect as of September 25, 1985.
Now, what this will mean when it passes is that sailors on ships that drew within 12 miles of the coast of Vietnam during the war will be granted presumptive exposure to dioxin-containing herbicides under the Agent Orange Act of 1991. It has been posted to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

However, unlike previously when the Vietnam Service Medal was used to establish eligibility, now sailors will be required to provide proof, usually via Ship’s Deck Logs that show the ship they were on at the time did indeed close to within the territorial limit off the Republic of Vietnam. The Tonkin Gulf does not qualify because it is off what was then North Vietnam, and the DMZ [De-Militarized Zone].

So, if you have a claim, whether it is active or not, even though it has been denied, you could become eligible for benefits. If you have an inactive claim get it opened up again, if it is active and you get denied, appeal!

You should also begin obtaining your ship’s Deck logs. If you know the approximate dates your ship entered territorial waters [generally, if you could see the Republic of Vietnam from the deck of your ship with the naked eye, you were likely within 12 miles from the coast, and therefore inside the Territorial Waters of the Republic of South Vietnam], you can ask a researcher [we list two near the top right column here under Military Research] to get the specific dates for you.  

Once you have the date[s] and proof [deck logs] of being inside the twelve mile limit, you will need a buddy statement that clearly states that your buddy remembers that you were on board during that time.

If this bill passes, and it should if it is left as is, the DVA will not like it, and will not make things easy on you. So get your documentation lined up now. Just in case. You do not need to file that documentation yet, but keep it on hand in a safe place and ONLY SEND CERTIFIED [by a Notary Public] to the DVA. So, get your buddy to have his written statement notarized by signing at the Notary’s office.

For those whose ships anchored in coastal waters, such as off Vung Tau, and other locations, those dates are the ones you need to work with. Proof you were aboard [buddy statement], and that the ship anchored in coastal waters at a certain date and time [deck logs] will get your AO claim approved if you have one of the AO diseases.

There is a bill in the House of Representatives, HR 812 that we do not endorse. It was introduced by Congressman Bob Filner [D-CA], and is the exact same bloated bill that we helped get over 265 cosponsors for last year, and he never even took it out of the subcommittee.   Repeat: WE DO NOT ENDORSE HR 812.

We are staking our claim with S1629, as it does not include anyone else except Blue Water Navy. It is not as inclusive as we had hoped – we wanted to have TLC and all BWN included, but it is what it is and we should get the benefits for those it will cover as soon as possible.

To that end, we recommend that you join us at the Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War. We will be launching a grass roots campaign to get Senators to sign on as cosponsors. So join us, there is strength in numbers. Visit the VASVW Forum site at:
http://vasvw.org/forum/member.php?action=register and register today!

Also, as usual, our friends at the Fleet Reserve Association have already put up their Capwiz page for automated pre-written letters sent by email to your state’s US Senators. Here is the link: http://www.capwiz.com/fra/issues/alert/?alertid=54045631

Time for action is now. You’ve had the spring and summer off, now we need to get this passed ASAP and then pushed through the House.

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

Copyright © 2005-2011: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Seventh Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved. Reprinting or copying of the contents of this blog without the express permission of the author is unlawful.

11 comments:

  1. Anonymous20:04

    I have to take slight exception to one thing said here; "Buddy Statement".....I doubt the DVA will accept a simple statement from one of your shipmates that you were there, after all, what proves that HE was there? If you can get a log entry, you can also get service record data to support your presence on board. The DVA refused to accept a court-sworn affidavt and two notorized letters from shipmates in my case....the VA Board of Appeals, on the other hand, thought them more than adequate......

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  2. I have provided a buddy statement and it was accepted. And it was not notarized.

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  3. Guys, 2.6 million of us have already died since the war ended. We're dying at the rate of 300+ per day. There's no time left for many of the Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia vets. We can't leave them behind; they'll die and the BVA will win again.

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  4. We will, of course, continue to press for TLC inclusion, but are forced to take what we can get at this time. And once we get whatever that is, we'll start over getting the rest: TLC, the rest of BWN, and the other locations.

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  5. Anonymous13:03

    have provided a buddy statement and it was accepted. And it was not notarized.
    -----------------------------------
    Let me see if I have this straight; the DVA, who ofter refuse to accept simple service record entries and official letters, in your case, accepted a letter from a 'buddy'? Unless said buddy was already drawing a disability for the same thing (and even at that I'd only give it a maybe) I find that hard to believe.

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  6. VNVets14:29

    You got it backwards.
    If you have further discussion on this, use the email me link at the top of the left column.

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  7. Anonymous17:50

    Fantastic news, lets hope that they will pass this bill which has been overdue for so many of us, and so many of our brothers, and their families, it is too late. If I understand this, if your ship was on the newly recognized brown water navy list, or if you were 12 miles or less, all you have to do is get a buddy statement.

    Why do you need a buddy statement, all of that information dates of service, Combat Action,Vietnam Service etc is on your DD214? Do they think people jumped the ship not to go!!! Just 1 more hoop to jump through!

    Thanks to all who are making this possible.

    BT3 Rich Hauzinger USS Lang DE-1060 1971-1973.

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  8. Anonymous17:57

    Great news, however a little to late for many that have passed and have left their family's.

    As I understand this new proposed bill: Those who served on ships that were 12 miles or less or whose ships were designated Brown Water Navy, now with a "buddy statement" can be granted the presumption of exposure to agent orange. Dont know about you but I have 1 buddy left who I talk to regularily, how about if you dont have one or cant find one.

    A reasonable person would conclude that all of this information is on our DD214-Dates,ships, commendations etc etc. Let us sincerely hope that this is our last and final hoop. Thanks to all that our helping us. RMH BT3 USS Lang De-1060

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  9. VNVets18:59

    No, all of that information is not necessarily on your DD 214 or in the sections of your Personnel File that you get when requesting your military records. If your ship made one trip inside those territorial waters for 36 hours while you were having your infected tooth pulled on a carrier forty miles out to sea, you are out of luck.

    And you also forget that in many cases with the DVA, you are not dealing with reasonable people.

    Last cooment accepted about Buddy Statements. See latest blog entry for more information.

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  10. Anonymous19:58

    You're gonna love this...today I get an email from one of my Senators....I had gone to him re the new bill.....he told me all about Filners bill in the house and how he had voted against an amendment to it in the SENATE; I wrote back and asked him if he'd heard of the Gillibrand/Graham bill (S-1629) and would he quit worrying about the HR bill until it got to the Senate (fat chance) I write this to let everyone know what we are up against....the hill is STILL steep (but I think I can see the top)

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  11. VNVets20:02

    I think I can top that. One of my Senators wrote me thanking me for supporting Hillary Clinton's bill to pay the Vietnamese Agent Orange Benefits [another AO bill introduced by Filner!]

    Nah, Congress isn't disconnected from reality. Nah. D'ya think?

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