Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Va offering wider eligibility for Agent Orange Benefits

Blue Water Navy Veterans and anyone who served on US Navy ships after they were contaminated in and off Vietnam may become eligible for Agent Orange benefits due to a recent change made by the VA.

A report made by Dr. Jeanne Stellman of Columbia University, to the Institute of Medicine, Committee on Agent Orange and Vietnam Veterans regarding the post-Vietnam War use and maintenance of C-123 Provider Aircraft that were used on the spray missions over South Vietnam indicates that the C-123 airframes remained contaminated after the USAF stripped the planes to bare metal.

According to Dr. Stellman's report, the Air Force stripped the airframes down to bare metal and and thoroughly cleaned the planes in an effort to de-toxify the aircraft from residual herbicides from spray, blow-back, spills, and so on.  What Stellman found on examining these planes was there were still traces of dioxin on the aircraft.  Dr. Stellman also testified that one molecule was sufficient to contaminate a person and result in any one or more of the Agent Orange related diseases.

You can download the study in .pdf format for free from the Institute of Medicine's website at:

http://iom.nationalacademies.org/Reports/2015/Post-Vietnam-Dioxin-Exposure-in-Agent-Orange-Contaminated-C-123-Aircraft.aspx 

Using that testimony one can reasonably conclude that the same results can be found in the water purification systems on US Navy ships that are on the VA's exposed ships list [see the list click here] for subsequent service on those ships at any time.  The US Navy never went to the lengths to decontaminate their water evaporation system that the USAF did to decontaminate their C-123 aircraft.

What this does not do:

This does NOT provide a path to eligibility for Blue Water Navy Veterans who served off the coast of South Vietnam and who's ships have NOT been determined to have entered Brown Water, ports, rivers, etc. -- in other words, are NOT on the Blue Water Navy ship list linked above.

But, we still have another year for the current Blue Water Navy bills currently in Congress, S.681 [34 cosponsors], and H.R. 969 [291 cosponsors].  Get busy with your two Senators and your Representative to get these bills moving and passed.

What this does:

Any Veteran who served on a ship AFTER it had been exposed according to the VA's ship list, and who has an AO-related disease COULD find a path to a successful claim.  [Our best estimate is that it would require at least one claim going through the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims before the VA would be forced to grant exposure under those conditions.]

Additionally, the VA says:

Eligibility - Service Outside of Vietnam or Korea

Even if you did not serve in Vietnam or the Korean demilitarized zone during the specified time periods, you can still apply for disability compensation if you were exposed to an herbicide while in the military and believe it led to the onset of a disease. This includes:
This would include those who handled the herbicides on Guam, Okinawa, Johnston Island, and other locations.

Go for it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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 © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh 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.

Monday, November 09, 2015

On Veterans' Day

To all our sisters and brothers who served or are serving, we salute you one and all on this Veterans' Day.

Keep in mind:

"A Veteran - whether active duty, discharged, retired or reserve - is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America" to uphold and defend our Constitution, for an amount of "up to and including my life"."

That is honor, and there are far too many people in this country today who no longer understand that.

Thank you one and all for your service to this nation.


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 © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh 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.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Alert -- Action Required: Message from VVA


Message from John Rowan, VVA National President
On behalf of the Vietnam Veterans of America Board of Directors, I am requesting that on November 4, starting at 9:00 am, you call your members of Congress to seek their support for H.R. 1769 and S.901, the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015.
It is all about the one-minute phone call. Let your politicians know that you are watching and that you care.
The passage of the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 is one of the most important efforts that we can do collectively to insure that future military service generations learn from our experience and that our offspring receive the respect and consideration for the sacrifices and pain that they endure from illnesses due to our service in Vietnam.
This is one of our last battles—Losing is not an option.

<

 John Rowan
VVA National President

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 © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh 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.

Friday, October 02, 2015

FRA Keeping the Pressure on Senate for BWN

Our good friends at the Fleet Reserve Association are at  it again.  This time in a meeting with the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee:

SVAC Reviews Veteran Toxic Exposure
FRA National Executive Director (NED) Thomas Snee attended a recent Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC) hearing on concerns about toxic exposure impact on veterans and their children. The hearing focused primarily on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) response to toxic exposure issues—the “Toxic Exposure Research Act” (S. 901), the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act” and toxic exposure at Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune, N.C.

After the hearing, SVAC Chairman Johnny Isakson (Ga.) spoke with NED Snee and requested input from FRA on the overarching issue of toxic exposure. Snee dispatched a follow-up letter to Chairman and Ranking Member Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) expressing the views of the Association.
Here is a copy of the letter to Senators Isakson and Blumenthal:
September 30, 2015

The Honorable Johnny Isakson
Chairman Senate Veterans Affairs Committee
131 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Isakson:
I would like to follow-up on our discussions from Tuesday’s (Sep 29, 2015) committee meeting on the Toxic Exposure to veterans, and provide Fleet Reserve Association’s (FRA) position on this critically concern matter for many of our veterans. Nonetheless, FRA wants to sincerely thank you, and the committee’s Ranking Member Richard Blumenthal for conducting the hearing this week.

FRA supports the “Toxic Exposure Research Act” (S. 901). It is however important to note, that the Association represents the concerns of the sea services of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Our emphasis from the Association’s advocacy point of view has strongly been in support of the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act” (S.681/H.R. 969). I am quite aware of concerns expressed by congressional leadership about the budgetary impact of this legislation. A great number of FRA’s members have offered to “round down” there veteran’s benefits as an offset for the enactment of the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act”, but not necessarily the final end-all to responsible appropriations spending to avoid further taxing of our active duty and retiree personnel.

FRA is also concerned about the Agent Orange Act of 1991 (P.L. 102-4) and endorses the two year extension enactment of the “Agent Orange Extension Act,” (H.R. 3423).

From 1964-1975 more than 500,000 sea service members were deployed off the territorial waters and coast of Vietnam. Many of these sailors, marines and coast guardsmen were exposed to the Agent Orange herbicide used in Vietnam. Shipboard exposures were known to have been in both air filtering and water distillation processes. Past VA policies (1991-2001) allowed service members to file claims if they received the Vietnam Service Medal and/or Vietnam Campaign Medal. However, the VA has implemented a “boots on the ground” policy placing limitations for Veterans to seek any Agent Orange presumptive pay and benefits to well deserving sea service personnel who were embarked or sailed on these ships.

The Association appreciates the establishment and ongoing presumptive service-connection for Vietnam veterans who have B cell leukemia, Parkinson’s disease or ischemic heart disease. These diseases are related to exposure to the Agent Orange contaminants. FRA is strong advocate for expanding and accelerating Agent Orange service-connected benefits from these associated illnesses. The Association continues to pursue legislation that will reverse the current VA policy to enable Blue Water veterans and retirees with these associated health issues and to expedite a quicker resolution for service-connected VA filing, medical and disability payments and receipt of entitlements they are so deserving of.

While the expanded VA policy to include veterans who sailed on “inland waterway” ships is significant, FRA believes it does not go far enough. The Association has received hundreds of calls from “blue water sailors” and their surviving spouses, stating that due to service on “their ships” in Vietnam waters (Tonkin Gulf), they too suffered or have died from many of the illnesses associated to presumed exposure to herbicides as their “brown water” and “boots on the ground” counterparts. The Australian and Russian navies’ reports are consistent to these findings as well to this justification.

Many Americans would like to forget about Vietnam, but those innocent members afloat, did not know the consequences they were “sailing into”, and we should never forget them as well. We respectfully request that this letter be placed in the record from Tuesday’s meeting.

Sincerely,

THOMAS J. SNEE
National Executive Director,
Fleet Reserve Association
Master Chief Petty Officer, U. S. Navy, Retired
Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist

Cc: Ranking Member Richard Blumenthal
As you can see, the FRA has maintained a steady pressure on Congress, specifically on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  While the House of Representatives is supporting the BWN bill [279 cosponsors as of today], the Senate requires a different type of pressure. 

Make use of the FRA Action Page [click here] to put pressure on the Senate and the House!  

As we have said in the past, if you are not a member of the Fleet Reserve Association, you should be!!   Visit the membership page  [click here].

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 © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh 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.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Important Update for BWN Sailors

Our friends at the Fleet Reserve Association have passed on information about three issues that should concern you: 
Affected Vietnam Veterans should consider Filing Reconsideration of Claim
As reported in the May 1, 2015 issue of NewsBytes, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has ruled that veterans who served aboard ships in the harbors of Vietnam more than 40 years ago should not be arbitrarily excluded from Agent Orange claims—a significant step forward for these veterans. Former Navy seaman Robert Gray has been denied multiple disability claims by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) based on the fact that he was aboard a ship—not on land—during the Vietnam War, when the herbicide Agent Orange was liberally sprayed by American forces to remove foliage and eliminate enemy cover. The chemical was later found to cause numerous health problems for service members who were exposed, but the VA has denied disability claims to U.S. Navy sailors under the argument that the seamen were offshore and were not directly exposed. Veterans who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam who later developed specific health problems tied to exposure to Agent Orange should consider filing a claim for VA benefits or filing for re-consideration of previously denied claims.
In related news, FRA is supporting the “Agent Orange Extension Act,” (H.R. 3423) which would extend by two years the original sunset deadline of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 and ensure that Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange receive just compensation and care. The Act expires on September 30, 2015, and the legislation would extend it to September 30, 2017.

In addition, FRA supports the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act,” (H.R. 969/S. 681) which would clarify a presumption for filing disability claims with the VA for ailments associated with exposure to Agent Orange herbicide during the Vietnam War. Congress should recognize that so-called “Blue Water” veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam were exposed to Agent Orange herbicide. The bill authorizes presumptive status for VA disability claims associated with this exposure for this group of veterans. Members can weigh in on these proposals through the FRA Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center).
Please be sure to click on the link above to access the FRA's Action Page, and make your voice heard in Congress!

As usual if you are not a member of the Fleet Reserve Association you should be!

Get membership information here:   FRA Membership

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 © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh 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.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Where is the outrage?

We have repeatedly said right here in this space that we are convinced that the Department of Veterans Affairs is too big to succeed. 

Proof was presented a week ago when the DVA's Inspector General released a report that some 307,000 Veterans died while waiting for their claims to be processed so they could receive medical treatment by the DVA.

307,000!

Even if you could somehow discount two-thirds of that number you would still have over 102,000!

By any standard this is not just criminal negligence, and criminal malfeasance, but mass murder as well.

Where is the outrage? 

Unprocessed claims, according to a report on CNN, were found stuffed in desk drawers, and others were as old as 14 years.  Granted, not all those claims would be approved, but the number is staggering, and along with the problems uncovered earlier this year of long waits for VA Medical treatment by Veterans with approved claims, is indicative of the inability of the DVA to function from top to bottom. 

Lay this one squarely at the feet of the last three presidents, who appointed top positions at the DVA that were simply political gifts to donors, and who used the system to enrich their friends back home, and at the feet of the United States Congress over the past 25 years, which literally looked the other way while the DVA became the mass murderer that it is today.  

Congress, and the presidents are silent.  So is the main-stream media.

Treatment of Veterans in this manner reaches into the realm of treason: young people will not volunteer, and if a national emergency occurs, they will run to Canada rather than get drafted, much more than they did during the Vietnam War. Why serve to survive on the Battlefield only to die waiting for treatment from the DVA?  Can you blame them? 

This is so much more than a national disgrace, this is a national catastrophe, and it appears that no one in the main stream media, or the Federal Government -- not the White House, not Congress -- cares.

Where is the outrage?

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 © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh 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.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Help renew the Agent Orange Act!

From our friends at Fleet Reserve Association:

[Note:  This is NOT about the Blue Water Navy Act of 2015!]

Support Extension of Agent Orange Act (HR 3423)

Time is Running Out for Agent Orange Act.  Congressman Tim Walz (MN) recently introduced the FRA-supported “Agent Orange Extension Act,” (H.R. 3423) which would extend by two years the original sunset deadline of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 to ensure that Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange receive just compensation and care. The Act expires on September 30, 2015 and the legislation would extend the sunset to September 30, 2017.  FRA warned the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees regarding the sunset of the Act during its March 18, 2015 testimony.

The Agent Orange Act of 1991 (AOA) established a presumption of service connection for diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure, relieving Vietnam veterans from the burden of providing evidence that their illness was a result of military service. This law directs the the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to periodically research and review diseases that might be associated with Agent Orange exposure. The VA is required to add diseases the NAS finds to have a positive association to Agent Orange exposure to the VA’s list of presumptive service connected diseases. Since the enactment of the AOA, the NAS has issued reports that have led to the presumption of service connection for diseases such as Parkinson’s, B-cell leukemia and early onset peripheral neuropathy. Without these studies, thousands of Vietnam era veterans would have gone without the benefits they greatly deserve.

If the AOA expires before the final report is issued, the VA would no longer be obligated to review the NAS report or add any new diseases to the presumption of service list, in the process denying thousands of veterans their right to compensation.

Members are urged to use the Action Center to ask their Representative to support this important legislation.

 Take Action!

 If you aren't a member of the Fleet Reserve Association you should be!  Click Here for Membership Info.

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 © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh 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.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why you should be very, very angry!

Its not the pennies! 

Lord only knows who's idea this was, whether it was Congress, but more likely the VA, but we are incensed at the concept behind a survey sent out by our good friends at the Fleet Reserve Association. 

We were asked flat out if we were receiving disability benefits from the VA and if so would we be willing to allow the VA to "round down" to the nearest dollar our monthly benefit check...in an effort to pay for the Blue Water Navy Equity Act of 2015!

Its not the pennies. 

It is the gall of the VA and Congress to even conceive of such a scheme.  It is shameful of them to do so. 

Its not the pennies! 

The VA owns millions of square feet of building space that either stands empty or is rented out and much of what is rented out is undervalued and/or uncollected. 

A mixture of real estate liquidation and aggressive collection of all rents due, including back rents, would generate enough to pay for the BWN bill and then some. 

It's not the pennies. 

The VA takes line item budget money and reallocates it wherever and whenever it pleases.  As a result, it has to come begging to Congress to have the tax payers fork over funds to replace the mismanaged money the VA misused.  How about Congress forces the VA to do away with bonuses, do away with out of town conferences for employees, and moving money from one line item to another? 

Its not the pennies!

We spent years advocating in the halls of Congress to change the wording on the BWN bills introduced by Senator Gillibrand and Representative Gibson.  We pointed out that requiring the verification of the territorial waters would require months of research tracking down records from the National Archives, then plotting ship's courses on a chart to  see what days were spent inside the territorial waters off the Republic of Vietnam.  That costs a lot of time and money to do. 

We said, go back to the issuance of the Vietnam Service Medal or the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Service in Vietnam as the qualifier.  All that is required is a DD-214 with an other than dishonorable discharge, the issuance of either of the above awards, and verification of an Agent Orange-related disease.  Even a VA employee would require only about 5 minutes to approve the eligibility for presumptive exposure and order a Compensation and Pension Exam to determine the disability rating percentage.  Maybe this all takes a month...maybe five weeks. 

Consider the savings in administrative costs to get benefits to the Veteran that quickly. 

Yes, the VA will be paying some Veterans who we not exposed to AO, but have an AO related disease.  Those diseases are caused by more things than just AO.  But in exchange for that, all who were exposed will be eligible for presumptive exposure.  This is what Admiral Elmo Zumwalt recommended in his 1990 report to the VA and Congress that was the basis of the Agent Orange Act of 1991. 

The administrative savings will be far greater than any benefits granted to those who were not exposed. 

Further, consider the humanitarian factor of granting a claim within four to six weeks compared to granting a claim after six to twelve months of research on ship positions. 

Alright, we'll say it...limiting benefits to those who's ships sailed within the territorial waters of the Republic of South Vietnam is stupid and wasteful and criminally so!

Its not the pennies! 

Remember, you heard it here first: The VA is too big to succeed.  It is unable to attain and maintain competency at any level other than incompetence, malfeasance and waste.

We are starting to think the same situation with Congress. 

Its not the pennies. 

Its the dollars. 

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 © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh 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.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Membership offer from VVA

We highly recommend this special offer by Vietnam Veterans of America of a Member For Life membership for $100. 

Here is the offer from VVA's Web Weekly newsletter:

One-time Special Offer on VVA Membership

August 1 – December 31, 2015
Life Membership Dues $100.00

Download the application here

Membership is open to U.S. armed forces veterans who served on active duty (for other than training purposes) in the Republic of Vietnam between February 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975, or in any duty location between August 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975.
Learn more here
VVA is the only Veterans Service Organization that fully is established by and for the Vietnam Veteran and represents the interests of we Veterans of the Vietnam War.   Life membership is a worthy benefit to have. 

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 © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh 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.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Update on FRA BWN Efforts

Our good friends at the Fleet Reserve Association have taken on the role of the tenacious bulldog regarding Blue Water Navy HErbicide Exposure benefits.  Here is the latest from their weekly newsletter:
FRA NED Meets with White House Staff on Agent Orange/Blue Water Navy Issue
FRA National Executive Director (NED) Thomas Snee met with White House staff Ryan Robinson this week to discuss FRA’s legislative agenda. The discussion focused on the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act” (S. 681/ H.R. 969), which would clarify a presumption for filing disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for ailments associated with exposure to Agent Orange herbicide during the Vietnam War. FRA has long sought Congressional action recognizing that the so-called “Blue Water” veterans, who served off the coast of Vietnam, were exposed to Agent Orange herbicide. The bill authorizes presumptive status for VA disability claims associated with this exposure for this group of veterans.

Snee thanked the Administration for its support of these two bills, but warned there is much to be done to save faith with veterans of past conflicts. Passage of the bills would demonstrate our nation’s commitment to our service members from beginning to end, not just on the battlefield.
On another note, the house bill, HR 969, now has 264 cosponsors.

As we have repeatedly posted here, if you are not a member of FRA, you should be.   Visit this link to join: 

join Fleet Reserve Association.

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 © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh 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.

Friday, July 24, 2015

VA: Too Big to Succeed

The Weekly Watchdog newsletter from the National Association for Uniformed Services [NAUS], led off this wee'ks letter with the following story: 
Dire Warning by VA Secretary
The Department of Veterans Affairs may have to shut down some hospitals starting August 1 if Congress does not address a $2.6 billion shortfall for the current budget year.  The agency is also considering furloughs, hiring freezes and other steps to close a funding gap for the budget year that ends Sept. 30.  VA said it wants authority to use up to $3 billion from the new Veterans Choice program to close the budget gap, with as much as $500 million going to treat hepatitis C.  The new Choice program makes it easier for veterans to receive federally paid medical care from local doctors.
In a contentious hearing before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Wednesday, VA Secretary Bob McDonald said that no new funds were needed only the authority to be able to shift available money from one account to another in order to cover the costs needed for veterans health care.
Secretary McDonald has testified more than 4 times over the past year about VA’s budget without mentioning a shortfall of this magnitude.  In fact, the same “crisis-management” message was delivered only a short time ago regarding the mismanaged construction failure in the Denver VA hospital project, when VA admitted to another $2.6 billion shortfall in construction money.  NAUS understands the difficulty in bringing VA back on track to ensure veterans receive the care they have earned, however, the continuing discovery of mismanaged programs is terribly frustrating and, frankly, becoming all too familiar at the Department.
Recent scandals have demonstrated billions of VA resources have been misspent.  In March, for instance, Jan Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, detailed to House lawmakers that at least $5 billion and as much as $10 billion each year in employee credit card purchases were made without contracts and in violation of federal procurement rules.
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said they expect to have legislation drafted by early next week to correct the problem to make certain that McDonald’s message about closing the doors of care does not happen.
 As VNVets has been saying for a while, it is obvious that the VA is too big  to succeed.  They need to get out of the business of outpatient treatment.  They need to close the VA hospitals, and simply run whatever Veterans Homes are needed, and process the claims for benefits.  Let the Vets seek treatment from the best doctors and health professionals in the world: US!  Any Veterans who required treatment for service connected injuries, wounds, or diseases should go to Department of Defense hospitals around the country for treatment, therapy and prosthetics.

Really, the only way to rid the VA of its malignantly anti-veteran mentality is to decapitate it.  Remove everyone from the top down.  Then hire ONLY Veterans to replace them.  And don't replace most of them.  The VA needs to be smaller.  Indeed, we would be happy to see it revert back to a subsidiary of the Department of Defense, run by an undersecretary.

That way there is none of the stovepiping which has hindered cooperation between the two departments for decades.  They cannot agree on cooperative computer systems...really a simple task, but apparently not for Uncle Sugar.  Once the VA returns under the umbrella of the DoD, they can no longer use that as an excuse.  The VA will gain access to military operational and medical records.  That will shorten wait times for claims processing.

Geezle Petes, Congress!  Get a grip and get it done.  Stop wasting the taxpayer's time and money on these fixes that are guaranteed to fail.  And the VA, as it stands today, no matter how much money Congress throws at it, will gobble it up, waste it, and fail...because...they are...TOO BIG TO SUCCEED!

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 © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh 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.

Friday, July 10, 2015

FRA Helping Gillibrand push BWN Bill

As usual, our good friends at the Fleet Reserve Association [FRA] are right on top of things and out front as well.  Here is the latest from their weekly email newletter: 

FRA Stands With Senator Gillibrand to Help “Blue Water” Vietnam Vets Harmed by Agent Orange, but Ignored by VA
At a press conference in Albany, New York, FRA National Executive Director (NED) Tom Snee stood beside U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) as she announced a new push to pass bipartisan legislation to ensure thousands of Navy Vietnam veterans are eligible to receive the disability and health care benefits they have earned. These so-called “Blue Water” vets were exposed to the powerful toxin Agent Orange (AO) while serving off the coast of Vietnam and are currently ineligible for VA benefits for medical conditions related to AO exposure. Gillibrand is rallying support for the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (S. 681) legislation, which would clarify existing law so that blue water veterans would be fully covered by the VA if they served within 12 miles of the Vietnam shoreline. FRA was one of only two Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) in attendance at the conference. Several local TV stations and local print media covered the event. RPNE/NENG Floyd Hunt was also in attendance.
A Vietnam veteran himself, Snee is passionate about this issue. He’s testified before Congress on this issue multiple times and is a strong advocate for blue water veterans of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. “Most of these veterans are now senior citizens and the time to help them is now! Vietnam was not the most popular war or conflict in this nation’s history. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the peace treaty that ended the American involvement in the war. It divided us as a nation, socially, psychologically, politically and even within families. It’s not about the POLITICS. It’s about the VETERANS,” said Snee.
Currently, veterans must prove they had “boots on the ground” in Vietnam or served on the “brown water” rivers of the country before the VA will presume they were exposed to the herbicide and provide disability benefits for diseases related to that exposure. Gillibrand’s bill, introduced with Senator Steve Daines (Mont.) in March, would presume exposure for blue water vets, allowing the VA to process their claims for service-connected conditions and alleviate a portion of the VA’s backlog.
FRA supports both the House and Senate versions of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R. 969/S. 681) and believes that the status quo regarding disability claims of these veterans is unacceptable. FRA consistently cites the 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that validates a 2002 Royal Australian Navy study confirming the desalinization process used on Australian and U.S. Navy ships actually magnified the dioxin exposure in the ships’ water supplies. Recent presumption rulings that now include Air Force personnel who carried and distributed AO also strengthen FRA’s call for legislative change. Members are strongly urged to use the FRA Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center) to ask their legislators to support these proposals.
Please use the link to the action center to contact your Congressional Senators and Representative today.  And while you are at it, remember to join the FRA.

If you aren't a member of the FRA now, you should be!

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 © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh 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.