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

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