Wednesday, July 26, 2017

FRA: Message from Congress: Take Survey to help fund BWN Bill

Once again the Fleet Reserve Association shows their commitment to Blue Water Navy Veterans.  Here is the latest:
 July 26, 2017
FRA supports the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act” (H.R. 299/S. 422), sponsored by Rep. David Valadao (CA) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) respectively. These bills would allow “Blue Water” veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam to be compensated for service connected disabilities related to their exposure to Agent Orange herbicide. Legislators want to pass the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act” (H.R. 299/S. 422)  but need a cost offset. They have suggested rounding down to the nearest dollar monthly veterans benefits. Please let us know if think we should support this proposal.

TAKE SURVEY

The herbicide was use to destroy foliage on river shore used by the Viet Cong to hide in and shoot at ships passing by.  The chemical got into rivers that ran out to sea. Ships used water for bathing and drinking.  It has been proven that desalinization process for water intensified toxicity of the small amounts of herbicide in water.  Presumption of service connection exists for Vietnam veterans who served in country, on land and inland waterways. Enactment of H.R. 299/S. 422 will bring a degree of justice to several thousand Navy personnel who have been denied service connection by the VA since 2002. They no longer will have to prove direct exposure to Agent Orange, and they will receive expedited consideration for VA benefits if they are afflicted with any of the health conditions associated with exposure to this defoliant.

Studies demonstrate that the desalinization process used on Australian and U.S. Navy ships off the coast of Vietnam magnified the exposure of the Agent Orange in the water. Past VA policy (1991-2001) allowed service members to file claims if they received the Vietnam Service Medal or Campaign Medal.
Let's consider this for a moment.  There are approximately 4.5 million Veterans receiving disability benefits.  If each agrees to accept a round down of the pennies that are included in the monthly check [meaning every vet would get an even dollar amount with no added cents, which would cost each Veteran less than one dollar each month] then the VA would save somewhere between $2-3.5 million each month, which should be sufficient to cover the disability payments for BWN, and the administrative costs, and should cover the medical costs for treating those BWN veterans.  There aren't many of us left. 

In our opinion, this is a small cost to reap a huge benefit for our brothers in the Blue Water Navy.  Please go to the Survey site and vote YES!  This is a no-brainer. 

Once again the FRA has proven itself the best friend the Blue Water Navy has.  If you aren't already a member of this fine organization, you should be. Join today! 

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 © 2005-2017: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Thirteenth 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, June 15, 2017

Proposed Cuts to Individual Unemployability a Non-Starter,Administration Acknowledges

Our friends at Vietnam Veterans of America have released some great news!  Individual Unemployability will remain untouched by budgetary and/or policy changes.  Here is the VVA Statement:



(Washington, D.C.)--“It was a bad idea to begin with, unworkable and essentially uncaring for almost a quarter of a million veterans over the age of 62,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, referring to a provision in the President’s $186.5 billion budget proposal for FY18 that would take thousands of dollars in Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits from the most vulnerable of veterans. “Now the administration has seen the light and retreated from their poorly-reasoned plan. 

“Here at VVA, we have been deluged by calls from our members,” Rowan said. “They are concerned.  They are scared. Some are angry. They fear a personal financial disaster that could cost them their house, their savings, their very life.” 

“The administration’s plan was, in effect, to take from Peter to pay for Paul, to eviscerate the IU program to make available funds to enhance and expand the so-called Choice program, to the tune of $3.2 billion in FY’18,” noted Rowan. 

“Just as an avalanche of calls and e-mails struck all through the VSO and MSO community, so too did VVA and our fellow organizations send letters and offer firm and focused testimony blasting the proposal at a Senate hearing,” Rowan said.

“Once the politically astute in the administration recognized the folly of cutting benefits, which could cost certain veterans almost $20,000 a year, they reversed field, acknowledging that theirs was a non-starter, and that Congress wasn’t going to go along with the proposal,” Rowan concluded." 
  Many thanks to all those who raised the alarm, spread the effort and show the Administration their error.  And many thanks to the Administration of President Trump for recognizing the ramifications of such a budgetary policy change.


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 © 2005-2017: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Thirteenth 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, June 02, 2017

VFW reacts to IU removal from VA Benefits

Our fellow Veterans at the VFW have served notice to the VA that their prosed budget is dead on arrival:

VFW Continues Opposition to Proposed Cuts to IU: With the recent release of President Trump’s budget plan including proposed cuts to several benefits that disabled veterans count on, the VFW has been working with members of Congress to ensure a responsible budget that protects benefits. The proposed cuts include eliminating Individual Unemployability for veterans who become eligible for Social Security, rounding down the monthly amount received by disabled veterans and surviving spouses, and a massive expansion of the Choice Program without fixing its existing major issues. The sum of the proposed cuts would be tens of thousands of dollars annually for average veterans with service-connected disabilities that prevent them from working. The VFW will never support balancing budgets on the backs of veterans. The Choice Program, which allows veterans to find care in the community that their local VA facility cannot provide, has VFW support, but is in need of administrative fixes before a large expansion can occur and should never be used to fully replace VA. The VFW needs all veterans and their supporters to call their members of Congress and state your opposition to these dangerous proposals. Read the VFW's statement on the budget.

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 © 2005-2017: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Thirteenth 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, June 01, 2017

A punch in the gut! Fight back!

The President's proposed budget includes provisions to seriously cut Veterans Benefits in order to reduce the Nation's debt.  Seriously?  Balance the budget on the backs of the Veterans?  AN OUTRAGEOUS PROPOSAL!!!  Here is more from the FRA, including a link to their action page so you can send mail to your Congresscritters.



 Take Action!
 Oppose Benefit Cuts to Retirement Age Disabled Veterans
 Don't Reduce Disabled Vets Benefits
The Trump Administration's FY 2018 budget request reduces some VA benefits.
The proposed budget eliminates the Individual Unemployability benefit payments to retirement-age disabled veterans.  Under current policies, the Individual Unemployability program allows VA to award payouts at the 100-percent disabled rate to veterans who cannot find work due to service-connected injuries, even if they are not deemed 100-percent disabled.  The Administration has proposed stopping those payouts once veterans are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. This cut would impact more than 225,000 veterans currently receiving this benefit.
Veterans receiving benefits checks from the VA would also have their annual cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) reduced or “round down” to the nearest dollar.
Members are urged to use the FRA Action Center to ask their legislators to oppose these benefit cuts.
Click the link that says "Take Action" at the top of the page.

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 © 2005-2017: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Thirteenth 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, May 11, 2017

Time for direct action

Our good friends have done it again.  Since Congress apparently has had the lights go out due to the placement of their heads, FRA has bypassed Congress and added a direct appeal to Secretary of the VA David Shulkin.

Please take this seriously and take action today.  If the Secretary rescinds the 2002 rule change it will automatically revert to providing presumptive exposure to all on the basis of two things alone: receipt of the Vietnam Service medal [or the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in Vietnam] and a disease on the VA's list of AO related diseases.

What this avenue would do is a thousand times better than the bills in Congress, and far less expensive.  Those with prior denied Blue Water Navy claims will see them reversed and granted.  New claims will be far easier to process since they will not have to spend money and time on researching which ships entered territorial waters, how long they stayed, where they were inside territorial waters, and will have to do that for every time the ship entered territorial waters.   Multiply that by the 500 or so ships that earned the VSM or the AFEM-VN and you can see clearly that it would take years to accomplish the research. 

Instead, you present your claim with a DD 214, and a Page 4 of the Personnel Record, which you should have gotten, and a doctor's statement of diagnosis of a disease on the VA's list of AO Related diseases.  Instead of months, or years waiting on claims if the territorial waters are made a requirement, the claim wait time could take anywhere from weeks to several months.

This approach set up by the Fleet Reserve Association is the way to go.  Get your documentation together.

AND BY ALL MEANS USED THE FRA's ACTION CENTER TO SEND YOUR MESSAGE TO SECRETARY SHULKIN.  Be nice.  It isn't his fault, but he can fix it.

Here is the FRA's announcement:

Ask VA Secretary to Help "Blue Water" Vietnam Veterans
FRA supports the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act” (H.R. 299 & S. 422) that would clarify that service members serving off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam conflict have a presumption for filing disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for ailments associated with exposure to the Agent Orange herbicide. Studies demonstrate that the desalinization process used on Australian and U.S. Navy ships off the coast of Vietnam magnified the exposure of the Agent Orange in the water.

The VA Secretary could help these veterans by implementing a regulation. FRA has met with the VA Secretary and we have been informed that he is reviewing the policy. Please use the Action Center to ask the VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin to implement a regulation giving these veterans a presumption for filing disability claims with the VA for ailments associated with exposure to the Agent Orange herbicide.

Click here to reach the BWN Action Page and send a message to the VA Secretary.

Go do it now.  It takes less than three minutes.  I did it in two.  

We keep saying this, but if you aren't a member of FRA, you should be.  No other organization has pushed the BWN fight as far as FRAClick here to reach the FRA Membership Page.

Join today!

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 © 2005-2017: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Thirteenth 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, April 28, 2017

New Action by FRA

Our good friends at the Fleet Reserve Association have taken a major step toward restoring Blue Water Navy benefits.  Here is the latest:
FRA Staff and VA Secretary Discuss Agent Orange Blue Water Navy Issue
FRA Assistant Director of Veteran Programs Brian Condon, along with representatives from other veteran organizations, met with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David Shulkin to discuss the effects the toxin Agent Orange had on Vietnam veterans who served on ships in the Da Nang and Nha Trang Harbors. The discussion ranged from the shallow harbors and how sediment at the bottom was stirred up by ship propellers to how traces of the toxin can still be found there two decades later. The toxin found its way on board ships in the harbors through rainwater wash off, currents, tides and the numerous other ways. 

Representatives stressed that authorizing Blue Water Vietnam Veterans be put on the presumptive list for conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure. It would not be granting any new benefits, but rather returning benefits previously granted to Vietnam Veterans. The VA Secretary can authorize this by regulation. At the conclusion of the discussion, Secretary Shulkin was provided a packet of letters written by Blue Water Veterans. There were more than 30 one-page, written letters that spoke about financial struggles and personal frustrations with the long and agonizing wait. The authors urged the secretary to authorize the VA to provide care for those who served. Shulkin listened inquisitively and asked pertinent questions. He acknowledged there was much he had to learn about the Agent Orange Blue Water Navy issue, but he considered it important and he wanted to learn more. FRA will continue to also work on a legislative remedy and members are urged to use the FRA Action Center.
Going directly to the Secretary of the VA is a major step.  Secretary Shulkin could restore the benefits by issuing a change which would require putting the change out for public comment for a period of time [usually 60-90 days].  Subsequent to that, the VA could/should return the BWN to presumptive eligibility for exposure to herbicides.

On the other hand, Congress could stop dithering around and pass the bill and be done with it...finally!

Help them to get off their butts in DC and use the link in the FRA report for the Action Center.

If you thought the FRA was just another Veterans Organization, should should know by now that is isn't.  If you are not a member, you should be.  Join today.  Click here to join!

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 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 © 2005-2017: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Thirteenth 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.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Take Action on BWN Benefits

Once again our friends at the Fleet Reserve Association have issued a call for help to get the benefits going.  This time it is for the Bill H.R.299, and also for a petition on the White House website:  Let's get moving to get the petition signed ASAP.  It is more inclusive than the bill in Congress.  The petition asks to rescind the action made effective in 2002 that took us out of the Agent Orange Act of 1991, and that would reverse the action and automatically open the gates for ALL BWN Vets who received the Vietnam Service Medal, not just the ones who served inside the ten mile limit as H.R.299 stipulates.

You Carrier vets need to get your association shipmates to the White House petition site to sign on.  Details provided below from the FRA! 
White House Petition on Agent Orange/Blue Water Navy Issue
A petition has been put on the White House website asking President Trump to direct the VA to rescind the exclusion of Blue Water Navy Veterans, who served in the bays, harbors and territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam, from the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange.  The petition is available here
FRA is seeking a legislative remedy by supporting the "Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act" (H.R. 299/S. 422) that will bring a degree of justice to several thousand Navy personnel who have been denied service connection by the VA since 2002. They will no longer have to prove direct exposure to Agent Orange, and they will receive expedited consideration for VA benefits if they are afflicted with any of the health conditions associated with exposure to this defoliant. The herbicide was used to destroy foliage on river shore used by the Viet Cong to hide and shoot at passing ships.  The chemical got into rivers that ran out to sea. Ships used water for bathing and drinking.  It has been proven the desalinization process for water intensified toxicity of the small amounts of herbicide in water.  Members are urged to use the FRA Action Center to contact their legislators and voice their support.
  While you are at the action center, please explore the FRA website.  If you aren't a member, 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 © 2005-2017: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Thirteenth 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.