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.

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.


”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.


  1. Anonymous23:29

    Myself and the many veterans who visit the VNVETS Blog are very appreciative, I'm sure, of your efforts and determination in traveling to DC to meet with Rep Filner to encourage him to move forward with HR6562 this session of Congress. While I am discouraged with his discission to wait until January 2009 to introduce the Bill for passage, I do see an opportunity here. This will give us 4 more months to petition our State Representatives and Senators to support Rep Filner's passage of HR6562 and restore Veteran Benefits granted by the Agent Orange Act of 1991. And at the same time sending a strong message to DVA that the Veterans of this great nation will not be treated with disrespect any more.

    Might I suggest, that if every veteran who visits this Blog were to write or fax a letter to all the Senators and Representatives who represent his or her's state to petition their support for HR6562, I think that Rep Filner will find it and easy task to get HR6562 passed as promised.

    To get a list of your States Senators and Representatives use the Link in the upper right side of the Blog site [Contact your Congressman and Senator] use the [Power Search] option on the left side. This will provide search options. Check the box under the [Check to Use this Criteria]
    to the left of the state field. Then use the state drop down box to select your state. Then go to the bottom of the form and select the [Submit It] button. This site will then provide you with contact information for your state's Senators and Representatives. If you send a letter by US Mail it will take 3-6 weeks to reach a Senator of Representative. But if you FAX a letter they will receive it immediately without the security delay. Might suggest NOT using the Email option because your Email may Not get the attention a letter or FAX would get. I have recently done this for the state of Massachusetts where we have 2 Senators and 10 Representatives and have already received replies by mail and phone. If you are not sure what to write about I'm sure the Blog site can provide some letter examples you could use in our petition for HR6562.

    Tom Laliberte
    Plymouth, MA

  2. Anonymous11:14

    My salutes and gratitude to the dedicated and courageous VN vets of the Blue Water Navy and the other members of the association and its supporters. As mosts of you will agree, the DVA is the real enemy of the Vietnam Veterans-- all VN Vets--not only the Blue Water: Navy, Marines, Coastguard; and Airforce Veterans who may not have had boots on the ground, but also those soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who DID HAVE BOOTS ON THE GROUND. I recently heard of boots on the ground veterans who have either been cheated of adequate and rightful benefits or denied benefits for diseases related to AO exposure and mental illnesses (such as PTSD) related to combat. I would like to challenge those such BOTG troops to become as agressive and dedicated to gaining their just benefits as the BWN Vets. have been--DO NOT LET THE DVA CONTINUE TO CHEAT YOU AS WELL.

  3. Anonymous13:40

    How to Petition your Senators & Reps for HR6562 and Why.......

    Just today I was talking to a fellow Veteran telling him how I have FAXed the Senators & Reps in our state. And he said, how great that was and he didn't have to do it. I replied that, NO! He should also do it also. He asked WHY? The answer is simple. Power in umbers. The more veterans that petition their Senators and Reps will bring attention to an issue that must be considered seriously and action taken to resolve.

    You don't have a FAX, No Problem! Print your letter (hand written, Typed, or Laser printed) and go to your nearest Staples, Kinko's, or Office Copy Center with your list of FAX Numbers and they can FAX them for you. They will charge about $1.00 to fax a single page. How Easy is that?

    Tom Laliberte
    Plymouth, MA