Tuesday, September 30, 2008

VASVW Announces Election Results!

We would like to announce a milestone. The Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War was started on August 21, 2008 to provide an organization where all have a say and all have access to all the available information. We have just concluded the first election of officers and board members and these folks will serve a one year term.

The 2008-2009 Officers of the Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War:

President........................ Bob Gray
Vice President...................Dave Sanderson
VP Membership..................Tom LaLiberte
VP Public Relations.............Dale Williamson
Secretary........................ Frank Weber

Exec Bd. @Large................Mike Teaney
Exec Bd. @Large................Bill Conrad

Trustees.........................Rich Appling
Trustees.........................Javier Garcia
Trustees.........................Fred Kidd
Trustees.........................Don Hawbaker
Trustee [Atty]..................John Wells
Trustee [Atty]..................Mark Weitz

Appointed:
Election Committee:
.................................Carol Olszanecki
.................................Neil Richardson
.................................James Blish
.................................Noli Capitulo
.................................James Stark
.................................Garrett Wiles

We thank these people for their willingness to serve in a leadership role. We pride ourselves on the fact that we have conducted elections less than six weeks after we were founded. Now we can go about our business of seeing legislation through Congress that will restore benefits taken or withheld by the Department of Veterans Affairs improperly since the advent of the Agent Orange Act of 1991. We have also adopted a motto: Fortitudine vincimus - By endurance we conquer.

Their term in office will be somewhat tedious and frustrating as it will fall upon them to set the course for the group, to document it and to lead it where it must go to accomplish the goals set forth at the founding. We are small at this point, but plan to grow. Won't you join us? Click on the orange logo to the left on the sidebar and join VASVW today. Click on this link to join today:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vasvw/

And stay tuned for more news from VASVW in the coming weeks and months.

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 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

"It follows than 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 © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Actions of those before us fall on the shoulders of the present, future

We came upon the following article by Rick Malwitz on the MyCentralJersey.com website and thought that it is well written and contains some interesting insights into the Agent Orange issues. As a result, we asked the author for permission to reproduce it here as a context for what we are going through. We are not alone. Thanks to Rick for the great article. The link to the actual article is included below.

Actions of those before us fall on the shoulders of the present, future

Summer jobs were hard to come by in the mid 1950's, so when Don Smerecki of the Fords section of Woodbridge learned about a job in Edison he took it, driving his Henry J to a job on Whitman Avenue in Edison.

A word about the Henry J, which cost him $175. It was the economy model in the Kaiser-Frazer fleet. One of the first cars I drove was my father's Kaiser Manhattan, and allow me to pause here to wipe the tear from my eye.

Anyway, the job was at the Chemical Insecticide Corporation where one of his tasks was to apply poison labels on steel containers of a soupy arsenic mix that would be sent to Maine potato farmers. The arsenic was one of many products brewed by CIC.

The arsenic would come to CIC from France in powder form. Barrels would be picked up by a fork lift, opened and dropped into vats where it would mix with water. Smerecki recalled how the chemical reaction would keep the containers warm for several days.

By the end of the summer, Smericki discarded two pair of shoes, and two changes of clothes. "They were eaten away,'' he said.

Employees did not wear special equipment apart from rubber gloves. "There was no union. There were no federal laws, no nothing at the time. All the time it was "Hurry up, and get it done.' As far as safety, it did not exist,'' said Smerecki.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration — the workplace watchdog — was not created until 1970.

This week, we learned the real cost of CIC, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave title of 5.7 acres on Whitman Avenue to Edison Township, following a $53 million cleanup. At more than $9 million an acre, it's quite pricey real estate.

The cleanup was a function of the so-called Superfund, federal legislation originally designed to make the polluter pay for environmental cleanups. But because CIC's owner filed for bankruptcy — and because the tax on the chemical and oil industries that funded the Superfund expired in 1995 — the $53 million tab was picked up by the taxpayer.

While it's easy to condemn the property's owner, the damage done by CIC was a function of the careless environmental attitude that existed in the 1950's. Laws? We didn't need no stinkin' laws.

Our gasoline — the gas selling for $3.29 that I used to fill the Kaiser Manhattan when my brother left it empty — included lead. Paint included lead. There was no need for landfills because we burned our garbage. This summer I was at a museum in Pittsburgh that had black-and-white pictures of downtown Pittsburgh in the 1950's when steel was king. The sky was black and cars drove with their lights on at high noon, so thick was the smoke.

Smerecki, born in 1938, recalled as a kid swimming at a swimming hole that formed in a clay pit near the current location of the Woodbridge Center Mall. "The water was this thick blue,'' said Smerecki. It was not clear blue, but a cloudy mixture.

He recalled how many roads in Woodbridge were gravel that would be sprayed with used oil to minimize the dust.

After college Smerecki was a transportation manager at Diamond Shamrock in Newark. Among its products were two we associate with the Vietnam War: Napalm, a flammable gel used as a weapon, and Agent Orange, a defoliant, used to make sections of Vietnam barren.

Agent Orange was also manufactured at CIC, and its effect on Vietnam War veterans remains a major concern among veterans and their families.

In June the EPA announced an $80 million plan to dredge sediment from the Passaic River in Newark, in the area where Diamond Shamrock dumped dioxin, a byproduct of Agent Orange. The cost will be borne by the chemical company that assumed Diamond Shamrock's liability.

The cost of cleaning up the mess of our sloppy forefathers is something Moses cautioned about in the book of Exodus, when he warned of punishment, ""on the children and their children for the sin of their fathers to the third and fourth generation.''

Our fathers' and grandfathers' concocted these brews at CIC and Diamond Shamrock. We're stuck with the cleaning bill.

Rick Malwitz's column appears Sundays and Thursdays. Contact him at 732-565-7291 or rmalwitz@mycentraljersey.com

http://www.mycentraljersey.com:80/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080925/OPINION06/80925010/-1/newsfront
Again, thanks to Rick Malwitz and MyCentralJersey.com for the great article.

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 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

"It follows than 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 © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why Does The DVA Fight So Hard?

One has to wonder why the Department of Veterans Affairs [DVA], also known among Veterans as the Department of Veterans Abuse, would fight so hard to deny benefits to Blue Water Navy [BWN], Blue Sky Air Force [BSAF], and the Veterans of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia [TLC].

Indeed, one would also have to wonder why the DVA did everything in its power to derail the Agent Orange Act of 1991. Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, in his report to the Secretery of Veterans Affairs in the late 1980s castigated the DVA for its interference in scientific studies working on Agent Orange induced illnesses data. So bad was the interference by the DVA that the studies were removed from the auspices of the DVA and given to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Unfortunately, the CDC is a Federal agency and it, too, was susceptible to influence and interference from the DVA.

In his report, Zumwalt also talked about wind drift of clouds of Agent Orange while being sprayed. He estimated that it could, based on prevailing winds, drift as far as 29 kilometers, slightly over 18 miles.

Here were two things in the Zumwalt report, then, that the DVA did not want to hear. They had been stalling, delaying and denying Agent Orange had anything to do with Service Connected disabilities for nearly two decades, even while granting such Service Connection to isolated cases as early as 1972. But those cases had to be proven by the Veterans themselves, and without a shadow of a doubt. You had to leave the DVA with no room to escape in order to win your claim.

Wind drift and scientific studies would prove that the DVA was wrong in their fight.

The Zumwalt report was supressed by classifying the document until it apparently leaked out sometime between 1999 and 2003. So, not only did the DVA suppress the Zumwalt Report, it also applied undue influence on the scientists and statisticians who were conducting the cancer studies, and mortality studies in the 1980s.

We have seen somewhere on the Internet, and we cannot remember where, so this will remain unconfirmed, that in the year 2000, there were less than 8,000 active claims receiving benefits for Agent Orange exposure being paid by the DVA.

Let's look at the numbers. According to WikiAnswers:

8,740,654
Number of Vietnam Era Veterans. (Active duty Aug. 5, 1964 to March 28, 1973 or in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964)

2,594,000
Actually served in-country 1964 - 1973

50,000
Served in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964

58,148
Americans were killed or MIA.

304,704
wounded.

3,403,100
Personnel served in the Southeast Asia Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flight crews based in Thailand, and sailors in adjacent South China sea waters).

1,000,000 to 1,600,000
Fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly exposed to enemy attack.

543,482
Peak troop strength in Vietnam, April 30, 1969
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_US_soldiers_fought_in_the_Vietnam_War

So, if almost 2.6 million US Military personnel served in the Republic of Vietnam, that is, "boots on the ground", then why are so few receiving benefits under the Agent Orange Act of 1991?

What was it about Agent Orange that prompted the DVA to fight against benefits as far back as during the Vietnam War, a fight they are still engaged in today, in a case that is on the verge of possibly going to the Supreme Court.

There are two keys here. One leads to the other.

Service Connection:

By denying eligibility for Agent Orange presumptive exposure, the DVA stands to reduce the number of Veterans receiving compensation for Service Connected disabilities due to herbicide exposure.

Liability:
More importantly, as the only Federal agency with standing to do so, when the DVA denies service connection for presumptive exposure to herbicides, it also denies thousands of Veterans the real legal ability to pursue relief through civil courts for damage to their bodies from exposure to Agent Orange.
So, who is liable -- that is, who is being protected? Initially, it was the chemical companies that produced the herbicides. But that was simply a smoke screen. The class action suit that won settlements from the chemical manufacturers of Agent Orange and the other "rainbow herbicides" in the late 1990s is now closed. The Federal Judge who presided over the case has agressively protected the chemical companies since the settlement, refusing to allow the case to be reopened to new claimants for any reason, adamantly denying the civil rights to their day in court to thousands of potential new claimants. Early in the course of this trial, the Federal Government, initially a defendant, negotiated it's way out of the case, leaving the chemical coprporations hung out to dry.

Since that time, the game has changed. Testimony in another case, Winters vs Diamond-Shamrock, reports that the Hercules Corporation warned the Department of Defense that the formula they required in their contract was far too toxic, far too potent, to be handled without warning. They wanted to put warnings on the barrels. The Department of Defense warned them back that unless they provided the required formula and in the barrels marked as contracted, that is, without warnings, Hercules would be subject to criminal charges! Exactly what criminal charges is not specified, nor can we imagine what criminal laws would be broken for adding a warning to those who handle the herbicides that it was highly toxic, and dangerous to those who came in contact with it.

That takes the chemical companies off the hook. That puts the crosshairs squarely on the United States Government.

How does this connect? Service connection for presumptive exposure to herbicides gives an instant admission from the Federal government that the thousands of Veterans it is dealing with were exposed to herbicides. By denying the easiest group to deny, the TLC Veterans, right from the start of the Agent Orange Act of 1991, and eventually the Blue Sky Air Force in 1993, and the Blue Water Navy in 2002, the DVA was not protecting the chemical manufacturers like originally thought, but was indeed protecting the United State Government from liabilty in the issue of herbicide exposure. Where the Federal government once was able to negotiate itself from the list of defendants in a civil class action suit, any new actions would not only hold the U.S. Government culpable, but wholly, and solely liable.

That is why the Judge will not reopen the class action suit, and that is why the DVA will fight to the Supreme Court to prevent anyone else from becoming eligible for presumptive exposure to Agent Orange/herbicides. The past two administrations, under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, are protecting the US Government from a potential civil action that could conceivably cost the American taxpayers perhaps as much as bailing out the banking industry.

President G. H. W. Bush, speaking at the 1989 offical ceremony establishing the Department of Veterans affairs as a cabinet level department, remarked, "There is only one place for the veterans of America: in the Cabinet Room, at the table with the President of the United States of America."

As it turns out, that is only true when the Veteran is not a part of a group which might sue the government for millions, perhaps billions of dollars.

The shameful thing is, there is a good chance that if the DVA had simply paid the benefits Congress intended, there likely would not have been a second class action suit. Now, because of their actions, there most assuredly will be one. This time, the Defendant will be the United States Government, specifically, the Department of Defense, for its actions under Secretary Robert S. McNamara.

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 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

"It follows than 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 © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Haas en banc review request

The DVA has filed their reply to the NVLSP's request for an enbanc review of the Haas decision last May.

Here, in their final paragraph, is the essence of what they claim:

"Let us be clear. This appeal is not about determining whether only veterans who served on land are Vietnam War veterans. That category is far larger and encompasses a multitude of men and women, who, like Mr. Haas, honorably served their country off shore, in the air, and in other areas of the Vietnam Theater. This appeal is also not about establishing an absolute rule that veterans who served offshore can never be entitled to prove exposure to herbicides and obtain the benefit of the established presumptions of service connection based upon such exposure; Mr. Haas and others similarly situated are free to present evidence and testimony that they did, in fact, come into contact with herbicides. The issue in this appeal is a narrow one: whether the Secretary has reasonably interpreted an ambiguous statutory term to require service on land to obtain the presumption of exposure and consequently service connection provided by section 1116. Because the Panel properly concluded that the statute was ambiguous and that the agency's interpretation of its own interpretive regulation was not plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation, it properly deferred to the Secretary. The petition for rehearing should be denied."
Essentially, all the DVA is saying is that the court was correct in May when it ruled that the DVA was within its rights to define "Service In Vietnam" the way they did.

In doing so, the Court ignored a tenet called the Pro-Veterans Canon that says, in the presence of legislative ambiguity, the Court should always rule first in favor of the Veteran before Departmental Deference is applied.

That said, there is minimal chance that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will review their own decision, and even less of a chance that the Supreme Court would agree to review the case, even though they created the Pro-Veterans Canon and have reinforced it several times.

It is a sad day for this nation that a citizen and a Veteran has to say that we stand a better chance of seeing justice from Congress than from the courts.

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 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

"It follows than 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 © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Back from DC with news

A mixed bag from our trip to DC today. We'll get the bad news out of the way first. As we suspected HR 6562 will not be passed this term.

Now for the good news. The Agent Orange Equity Act will be introduced very early in the next session, and there are plans to give it some special treatment when introducing it to the rest of Congress. Now, no more details, just be aware something special is in the works.

Chairman Filner graciously agreed to meet with us this morning, and we asked specifically about plans for HR 6562. He seemed genuinely distressed that the bill would have to wait, saying, "There simply isn't time to get it through this session."

Now, he did not say what follows, but we will. We think that had HR 6562 passed this term, it would certainly have had an impact on the DVA's plans to redefine the definition of Service in Vietnam. We also believe it might have had an impact on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in their deliberations on whether they will review their own court decision in the Haas case this past May. So we believe we missed an opportunity to get benefits to a lot of Veterans pretty quickly and to have an impact on the pending actions that still have not been resolved by the Court and the DVA.

So, what is next? We face a changed political landscape come January. We won't know for sure about the new President's stance on this issue, nor will we know the stance of any new faces in Congress. So we absolutely must keep up the pressure on both houses of Congress to get them to back the Agent Orange Equity Act.

We gave Chairman Filner our version of that bill and he seemed satisfied with it. We also let him know we are writing other bills that should be available to his staff in time to tweak them for introduction at the same time as the Agent Orange Equity Act. The second bill deals with the addition of benefits for Veterans exposed anywhere in the world that Agent Orange was used outside of the Vietnam Theater of War. We also are writing a third bill that deals with the treatment of Widows and survivors when the Veteran/claimant dies. To be perfectly frank, the DVA has shown itself to be a callous, insensitive, and downright ugly agency when dealing with survivors and widows.

There are more bills in the works that deal with changes the VA needs to make to restore it to the agency it needs to be. Certainly unless things drastically change and soon, the young people of this country will choose not to serve in our military because they see how Veterans are treated. The VA Is despicable in its treatment of Veterans, widows and survivors.

Suffice it to say that Veterans have a true ally in Chairman Bob Filner, and his staff. They are wonderful folks who are committed to seeing Veterans get the benefits and treatment they deserve.

Another committed group is the great attorneys and staff at the National Veterans Legal Services Program. These folks are also a wonderful bunch of people. They can use your support. Please send them whatever you can. They provided a valuable service to us in particular, and to all veterans generally. Please donate to the NVLSP...send them as much as you can afford. They deserve it. Your donation will go toward helping another vet, or maybe even you. http://www.nvlsp.org/Donate/donate.htm

One more note, this from the NVLSP: No indication of the VA's response to the request for a review by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. However, as today was the deadline, they may have mailed their response, and thus it would not arrive at the Court until next week some time. Stay tuned!

Finally, we think you all have done a fantastic job gaining support for the bill from your CongressCritters. Please do not let this get you down. We had only an outside shot as it was, and we think we have a very good chance for quick success in January. Keep the faith, and keep the pressure up on Congress. Keep getting those pledges of support. We will exend the time on the poll in the top right so you can add your count when you get verification.

You are some of the greatest folks on this planet. You prove it repeatedly. And we must tell you how overwhelmingly we are humbled by the success of your efforts and persistance. We must not give up, we must not go away, we must remain on the front lines so the DVA will realize we are not going to stop until we get what they took away illegally.

Steady is the word and determined the effort. In the end, we will find our justice.

Thank you one and all.

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 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

"It follows than 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 © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Model Letter and an Urgent Request!

Here is a sample letter written by one of our VASVW members and sent to Chairman Filner and Congressman Hall. We reproduce it here as an example of a finely crafted letter that can be used as a model for your own letter.

Honorable Congressman Bob Filner
Chairman House Committee on Veteran Affairs
335 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Re: HR 6562

Dear Sir:

I am a Blue Water Vietnam Veteran serving my tour of duty with RVAH-1 attached to Carrier Air Group 3 onboard the USS Saratoga 1972-73. I come from a family of 6 boys and 2 girls. All six of us boys have served in the Armed Forces with me and an older brother serving in Vietnam. Him in the Army, me in the Navy. Out of the six my older brother and I myself suffer from Type II Diabetes. There is no history in my family of Type II Diabetes other than my brother and I. My brother receives a service connected disability for his Type II Diabetes, I don’t. The math is easy on this one!

Furthermore I am the single dad of a 12 year old son with a disability and struggle everyday with the hurdles life throws our way. I used to be a gung ho patriot and supporter of our Armed Forces but that seems to have diminished as I feel so forsaken by the Veterans Administration and my plight for benefits.

Each time I recall washing the green tree stains from the aircraft after low level strafing runs or put on a uniform and devoured substance that had been exposed to contaminated water I wonder why I served so proudly.

I write you in hopes of urging you to get HR 6562 passed this term and then float a new bill to cover everyone else. Sir I need this not for principle but a matter of survival.

Your utmost attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated.


signature

Cc: Congressman John H. Hall, NY
Folks, time is running out. Get those letters faxed to FIlner and Hall ASAP!

We will be in Washington next week banging on the doors of Congress. The bill has to come out of committee next week and go for a floor vote. Same in the Senate. It has to be introduced in the Senate yet, however.

This is very urgent!

Once again, please contact us using the "Email Me" link on the left sidebar with the name of the Representative or Senator that you contacted who pledged to co-sponsor HR 6562 in the House or the Senate. We do not need to waste time on those CongressCritters who will co-sponsor, we need to concentrate on those who have not! Please do this ASAP!
Thank you!

Remember to check out the VASVW at Yahoo Groups and join today. It is free! IT is not restricted to Navy, but includes Vets from Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Coast Guard, Fleet Marine, and Air Force Vietnam Veterans. Look for the Ship's Wheel logo on the left sidebar!
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 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

"It follows than 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 © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Time for the big push!

Folks, this is the time to put the pressure on. We need to focus on Chairman Flner and Congressman Hall.

Here, from an earlier post, is what we need to do and how to do it.

You can help by going to Congressman Filner's House Veterans Affairs Committee website and getting contact info and faxing or emailing him urging him to back HR 6562 as originally intended.

http://veterans.house.gov/contact.shtml

House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
335 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

or fax your letter to: (202) 225-2034

or call: (202) 225-9756

You can also contact Mr. Filner at the following locations:

333 F Street, Suite A 1101 Airport Road, Suite D
Chula Vista, CA 91910
Imperial, CA 92251

Phone: (619) 422-5963 Phone: (760) 355-8800
Fax: (619) 422-7290
Fax: (760) 355-8802

Washington, DC Office:

2428 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Phone: (202) 225-8045
Fax: (202) 225-9073

Recommendation: If you live near DC, visit their offices. They are right off the metro at the capitol complex. If not, don't bother to send US Postal mail, as it takes at least a month to go through all the Homeland Security stuff. Fax or call. Urge the Chairman to get HR 6562 passed this term and then float a new bill to cover everyone else. That way the original people covered will not be forced to wait while all the new stuff gets filtered through committees in both houses, as the new bill will.

Also, contact Congressman John Hall of NY. He chairs the Sub Committee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. That is where HR 6562 currently sits. We need to enlist his help in convincing Filner to change his mind about HR 6562, and get it through this year.

http://veterans.house.gov/disability/

You can email him using this site:

http://johnhall.house.gov/emailjohn.asp

We have 18 Senators ready to sponsor a concurrent bill in the Senate to save time. Let both these gentlemen know this.

The bill can still go through. Congress doesn't start working until after the Republican Convention, so look for them in Mid September to return, but their staffs ARE working and if they get enough traffic they will get their bosses to go to bat for this!

Now, also there is this link to a page in the great Fleet Reserve Association website. This will enable you to send a letter to your own Representative urging support for HR 6562. The letter is already written. You plug in your name and address and it will address it for you and send it. Make sure you select email, not postal mail, as postal mail will not reach them before they October recess.

Here is the link:

http://www.capwiz.com/fra/home/

Give it a try. And please keep the pressure on Chairman Filner and Congressman Hall, as well.

Finally, we ask once again, all those people who indicated on the poll at the top right of the page that they have gotten support from a Representative and/or Congressman, please contact me ASAP using the "email me" link on the left sidebar. Let me know the name of the Rep or Senator you have gotten the pledge of support from so we know who not to beat over the head when they've already agreed.

Thanks for all the great work. We are possibly nearing the end of this effort, so you absolutely must be assertive. This is perhaps our greatest chance to obtain our benefits, and restore our legacy. If we are successful we will still have more to do in supporting others who have been exposed outside of Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. But for now, this is our effort, as it must be, and as Filner intended it.

I know you have it in you.

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 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

"It follows than 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 © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.