Friday, May 01, 2015

Positive news for a change...

If your ship entered a Vietnamese bay, harbor or port and anchored, you may be eligible now thanks to the BWN-friendly U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals.  Shipmate Bob Gray has won a case as described below. 
Here is the great news from our good friends at FRA:

Veterans Appeals Court Rules in Favor of “Blue Water” Claim
The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has ruled that Navy 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 a myraid of health problems for service members who were exposed, but the federal government has denied disability claims to U.S. Navy sailors under the argument that the seamen were offshore and were not directly exposed.
FRA-supported proposals (HR 969/S. 681), introduced in both the House and Senate, which are pending in Congress, would give recognition to Navy personnel exposure to Agent Orange through ships’ water systems. Runoff containing the herbicide flowed into Da Nang harbor and other offshore waterways, infiltrating water systems on naval vessels.
Military Veterans Advocacy (MVA), a veteran’s rights organization based in Louisiana, has long sought recognition for these conditions and filed an amicus brief in this case. “This is an important step forward in restoring the benefits to those veterans who served offshore,” said retired Navy Commander John B. Wells, executive director of MVA. “When the VA stripped benefits from 174,000 Navy veterans, they left these veterans without health care and their families destitute. The VA now has a chance to restore the presumption of exposure to veterans who served aboard ships anchored in Da Nang and other harbors of Vietnam.”
The VA will probably appeal this decision, and Congress has not yet acted on Agent Orange/Blue Water legislation. FRA staff recently met with House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) staff to discuss the status of Agent Orange legislation (H.R. 969) and to request a HVAC hearing on this issue.
FRA has worked closely with MVA in the legislative arena, and members are urged to use the FRA Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center) to ask their legislators to support Agent Orange/Blue Water Navy proposals (H.R. 969/S. 681).
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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