Saturday, July 19, 2008

Filner Press Release: Veterans Cheated of Their Benefits

Veterans Cheated of Their Benefits
VA and Courts Ignore Promises Made to Veterans: CONGRESS MUST ACT
Washington, D.C. – Bob Filner, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, will hold a press conference on Wednesday, July 23 at NOON on the Cannon Terrace to announce the introduction of the Agent Orange Equity Act. The bill restores equity to all Vietnam veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange.

  • Chairman Bob Filner, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
  • William G. Jeff Davis, Blue Water Veteran
  • Ron Abrams, Executive Director, National Veterans Legal Services Program
  • John Rowan, Vietnam Veterans of America
  • Introduction of the Agent Orange Equity Act, a bill to ensure that veterans receive their earned benefits
  • Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at Noon
  • Cannon House Office Building Terrace
    The intersection of New Jersey and Independence Avenues, S.E.
    Washington, D.C. 20515.
“We owe it to our veterans to fulfill the promises made to them as a result of their service,” said Chairman Filner (D-CA). “If, as a result of service, a veteran was exposed to Agent Orange and it has resulted in failing health, this country has a moral obligation to care for each veteran the way we promised we would. And as a country at war, we must prove that we will be there for all of our veterans, no matter when they serve. The courts have turned their backs on our veterans, but I believe this Congress will not allow our veterans to be cheated of their earned benefits.”

The Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008 would clarify the laws related to VA benefits provided to Vietnam War veterans suffering from the ravages of Agent Orange exposure. In order to try to gain a better military vantage point, Agent Orange, which we now know is a highly toxic cocktail of herbicide agents, was widely sprayed for defoliation and crop destruction purposes all over the Vietnam War Battlefield, as well as nearby nations. It was also stored on U.S. vessels and used for vegetation clearing purposes around U.S. bases, landing zones and lines of communication.

Currently, VA requires Vietnam veterans to prove “foot on land” in order to qualify for the presumptions of service-connection for herbicide-exposure related illnesses afforded under current law. This issue has been the subject of much litigation and on May 8, 2008, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upheld VA’s overly narrow interpretation. Congress clearly did not intend to exclude these veterans from compensation based on arbitrary geographic line drawing by VA.

The Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008 is intended to clarify the law so that every service member awarded the Vietnam Service medal, or who otherwise deployed to land, sea or air, in the Republic of Vietnam is fully covered by the comprehensive Agent Orange laws Congress passed in 1991. If enacted, this bill will make it easier for VA to process Vietnam War veterans’ claims for service-connected conditions that scientists have conclusively linked to toxic exposures during the Vietnam War and that are identified in current law. With this legislation, Congress will leave no doubt that the “Blue Water Navy” and all combat veterans of Vietnam are intended to be covered and compensated; thus ensuring that these veterans will receive the disability benefits they earned and deserve for exposure to Agent Orange.
End of Press Release


”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 Bush 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

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved


  1. How I hope to be there. I feel it is important for them to see some of our Blue Water Vets in the conditions they are in. Hoping for the best for all.
    Randy and Karen Johnson

  2. I hope you can make it. Indeed, I'd love to see all of us show up. I'd love to meet you all.

    This is perhaps the most important event we will have short of the actual passage and enactment.

    An awful lot of folks have been conditioned to respond to this with suspicion and doubt. I, too, have been so conditioned, but after seeing the bits and pieces I have seen, I have lost all fear and doubt.

    This is THE REAL DEAL.

    But it is just the start. We'll have a long battle ahead of us against the VA, and the Administration, which will most assuredly fight tooth and nail against passage of this bill. And they will fight dirty.

    We must remain above their tactics and put constant pressure of the 435 members of the House and 100 Senators to do the right thing, and get this passed with a veto-proof margin, and without any poison pill amendments.

    We need to get the Majority and Minority leadersship on both sodes of the aisle and in both houses to support this bill and see it through. It is bi-partisan and this IS an election year, so we have an edge.

    In the coming days we will further define this strategy and lay out what every BWN Veteran can do to get this passed.

    This will be the biggest fight of our lives, and the Battlefield will be the US Congress.

  3. Now that the Congress is all the way up to the 1960's with its concerns, perhaps the Project 112/SHAD Veterans will some day be given the benefit of the doubt....or some benefits.....or at least medical care....???

    ....yeah, right.

    J.B. Stone, USN, 1967-70 Human Test Rat

  4. You will not be forgotten. Blue Water Navy Veterans are pledged to take up the fight for other Vets in similar situations. But one step at a time. Please celebrate with us in the coming months when this bill becomes enacted.

    Then we can turn to Shad, Guam, Korea, Panama, and US bases in Thailand,and in the US.

  5. Anonymous17:08

    I forwarded this to my two Vets Organizations: Fleet Reserve Assn and MOAA. Suggested they might be represented at the announcement and put out a "Call or write your Congressman" to support it. I expect to have an answer by Monday AM......I'm sure you did the same, thoght I'd get ahead of the game.

  6. That's terrific! That is the kind of work we need. All the major Veterans Service Organizations need to be on board with this effort to pressure Congress to get the bill through with a sustainable margin before the election.

    Thanks! And keep up the great work!

  7. Anonymous20:02

    With a Democratic majority...however slight....we should be able to get enough Republicans willing to support the veterans....especially with this being the last half-year of President Bush term, many may feel it's OK to do the right thing instead of what the President wants. I exclude the rep from my district from this since he would support the testing of nuclear weapons in the middle of his congressional district if George Bush hinted that's what he'd like to do. The main problem is getting it to a vote and not getting it stuck in committee for the rest of this Congress....a commitment from Mr. Filner to keep introducing the bill until it's passed would be good.

  8. Berta Simmons10:33

    some have "plotted" ???

    I thought the AO Equity Act was for "equity"

    I spoke to Rick Spaturo a few weeks ago about the fact that Nehmer did not account for additional AO vets although the Korea AO vets are fully covered by Nehmer-
    still any loophole the VA sees -if Nehmer isnt spelled out as to how it impacts on BWN vets and all other exposed vets---will give VA one more way to get out of paying the special retro awards that Nehmer provides in many claims.As well as provide for awards of accrued to their next of kin-unlike all other types of VA claims.

    I think I am one of the "plotters".
    And I saw the potential loophole for VA regarding Nehmer-for ALL BWVs and any other vets exposed to AO.
    Has anyone else considered Nehmer's impact on this bill?

    Berta Simmons

  9. So your preference would be to see that Nehmer is extended to all the new Vets that get covered? By this I mean that it is retroactive?