Friday, April 22, 2011

VASVW Changes Forum Location

Just a quick note about the Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War [VASVW]. The VASVW Forum on Yahoo! Groups will be shutting down at midnight, April 30, 2011. Members should be transitioning now to the new forum at:

http://www.vasvw.org/forum/  

and new members should be going to that forum to register for membership at:

http://vasvw.org/forum/member.php?action=register .

The new VASVW forum site offers different forums for different topics. For example, we have a Quarterdeck forum for new folks just joining, to check in and to ask questions about VASVW and the forums...and we have a Fantail forum where we share sea-lies...er...sea stories with each other. There are forums for Agent Orange Information, Medical Issues, the DVA, and even a Back Porch, where you can "post about anything while you put up your feet and open up a cold one".

If you want to help us see to it that Congress does the right thing by all Vietnam Veterans, join us at VASVW.

The Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War, Inc.
Service to the Nation decades ago, now back in action!
"Fortitudine vincimus!" - By endurance we conquer!

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 © 2005-2011: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Seventh 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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Attention Vietnam Era Veterans of Okinawa

An article was recently published in the English edition of The Japan Times that discusses the plight of those Vietnam Era Veterans who's service was on the Japanese Island of Okinawa. Many barrels of herbicides were stored on the island and to some unknown extent it was used there as well. Read the story Evidence for Agent Orange on Okinawa, by Jon Mitchell, in The Japan Times.

The story of these Veterans is the same as those who served on Guam, in the Philippines, on Johnston Island, and so on. These Veterans are the subject of the second of two proposed Agent Orange bills awaiting introduction in Congress. The Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War [VASVW] is advocating the two bills [the proposed Agent Orange Restoration Act, and the proposed Agent Orange Supplemental Act], in order to provide benefits for Vietnam Veterans who had their benefits under the Agent Orange Act of 1991 taken away by the Department of Veterans Affairs [the AO Restoration Act], and for Veterans who served outside of the Vietnam Theater of War but were exposed to herbicides that were stored, used, tested or shipped through their location [the AO Supplemental Act].

Those Veterans who served on Okinawa [and other locations] would be covered by the proposed Agent Orange Supplemental Act, necessary because they are a separate class of Veterans who served outside the Combat Zone/Vietnam Theater of War. [Read about the difference between the two bills.]

Thanks to Jon Mitchell and the editors at The Japan Times for bringing the Okinawa issue before the public. The hope here is that US wire services pick up the story. And perhaps a Veterans magazine might publish it as a different view of the Vietnam War and its deadly consequences.

Visit the VASVW website for information about our efforts to spur Congress to "do the right thing" and cover all Veterans exposed to dioxin-containing herbicides.

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 © 2005-2011: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Seventh 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.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Why two bills?

Glad you asked.

The proposed Agent Orange Restoration Act restores benefits to Veterans included in the original Agent Orange Act of 1991 [those who served in the Blue Water Navy, and those who served in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia [TLC] during the Vietnam War. This restores eligibility for presumptive exposure to herbicides to all who received the Vietnam Service Medal [VSM], or the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Service in Vietnam [AFEM-V]. These Veterans "subgroups" are not new to Congress, and we think the appropriation for them is still in place, and that the DVA is using the money for other purposes, such as new construction.

The proposed Agent Orange Supplemental Act will provide presumptive eligibility to a new class of Vietnam Era Veterans who did NOT earn either the VSM or the AFEM-V. Therefore, it covers any Veteran of the Vietnam Era, who served anywhere else in the world at the same time herbicides were used, stored, or shipped from/to/through that location, and have developed an official Agent Orange Disease. It is the same coverage as the Restoration Act [which is the same coverage as that provided under the current version of the Agent Orange Act of 1991, as amended.]

The major difference to Congress is the cost.

The Restoration Act will cost approximately $1.8-3 Billion the first year [due mainly to retroactive lump sum payments], and approximately $400-600 Million per year after that, declining each year as the Vietnam Veterans die off. Dependents Indemnity Compensation [Survivors Benefits] will require additional funding beyond the death of the last Vietnam Veteran. This is a simple bill, the language of which simply restores the VSM, or the AFEM-V as the primary qualifier for presumptions.

The Supplemental Act covers a class of Veterans totally new to Congress. The language of their bill needs to be added to Title 38 via the legislation. Appropriations must be found for this bill. Costs need to be developed based on the population of the covered class of veterans. This will take time. Congress needs to be educated on this class of Veterans and how they were exposed. This will take time. This will cover those who served during the Vietnam Era in such places as Panama, the Philippines, Okinawa, Guam, Johnston Island, Japan, Hawaii, and essentially at almost any US or NATO Base anywhere in the world since herbicides were used throughout.

Accordingly, by the nature of things, the Restoration Act should find an easy path to passage. Conceivably, the appropriations should not be a problem since the original 1991 appropriations are still in place, and this class of Veterans [BWN, TLC] is already covered under it. [This makes it the problem of the DVA to re-divert the money it is already spending elsewhere [rather than returning it to the US Treasury!] and ask for new appropriations in their spending bill to cover whatever they were using the money for]. The cost for this coverage essentially goes to zero.

Funding for the Supplemental Bill will take an enormous effort as there is no sure set of numbers at this time beyond the fact that approximately 5.3 million men and women [and sometimes their dependents] served in areas covered by this bill during the Vietnam Era, who are NOT Vietnam Veterans but are Vietnam Era Veterans.

While we are asking both bills to be introduced together, they will not travel on the same path or on the same timeline.

But the two bills will prevent the loading up of the Restoration Act with groups that will drive the cost up, as it has the past three years [two bills, in the last two sessions of Congress died in committee because of costs driven sky high by the addition of Vietnam Era Veterans to the bill.]

On the plus side, while there is little prospect for the immediate passage of the Supplemental Act, the passage of the Restoration Act would be a major step toward the recognition of just how bad the devastation from dioxin-containing herbicides was, and still is. And those who served outside of the Vietnam Theater of War will finally have a bill to call their own, where they can band together and provide the kind of advocacy-specific impetus needed to pass their bill. It is a different class of Veterans and requires different language than the Restoration Act.

For those of you who actively advocate for these bills, feel free to download them from the links at the top right of the page, and forward them to your Representative and both Senators, and ask them to help introduce, cosponsor, fund and pass both bills. Then, truly, no one will be left behind.

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 © 2005-2011: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Seventh 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, April 02, 2011

Misinformation Alert

An article in a state level Veterans Magazine was brought to our attention yesterday. While the information in the article is accurate, it is outdated by almost 5 years and therefore woefully incomplete.

The article touts the Haas case decision in the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, in August 2006, and states that the decision in that case is now the law, so get your claims in fast if you were Blue Water Navy.

As we found out subsequent to the USCAVC decision, it did not stand very long. The Department of Veterans Affairs [DVA] filed an appeal immediately, and the case moved on to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit [USCAFC]. We attended the oral arguments in the case at the US Court House in Washington, DC in November, 2007. The Court issued its decision to reverse the USCAVC officially in October of 2008. Commander Haas, and his legal team, headed up by the National Veterans Legal Services Program, appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of the United States [SCOTUS]. SCOTUS did not select the case for review, thereby letting the USCAFC decision stand.

Subsequently the case was remanded back to the Regional Office via the USCAVC, and the Board of Veterans Appeals [BVA]. The case was dead.

In separate DVA claim action, Commander Haas did eventually get his claim for direct exposure approved, but it had nothing to do with the legal case as described above.

It is an unfortunate accident when the alert that flashed around the Internet in August and September of 2006 gets republished as if it is current news. In fact, the current policy of the DVA is that Blue Water Navy Veterans must prove boots on the ground, or service in Brown Water to have their presumptive Exposure to Herbicides approved for benefits and medical coverage.

Though the correct bill has not been introduced in Congress quite yet, we are hopeful it will be in the coming days. We do not support  HR 812 which is Bob Filner's reissued HR 2254 from the last session. Mr. Filner let HR 2254 die in committee despite having over 260 cosponsors. It died because it was written to cover almost anyone anywhere who had ever been exposed to herbicides during the Vietnam Era. Because it went so far beyond the scope of restoring benefits to Veterans who were to be included in the original Agent Orange Act of 1991, the cost became prohibitive at $27 billion.

We ask all of our readers to contact their Veterans Service Organizations [American Legion, VVA, VFW, DAV, FRA, etc.] and ask them to NOT support HR 812. It will not cover all the Veterans who should be covered. Ask them to support introduction of the Agent Orange Restoration Act and the Agent Orange Supplemental Act immediately! When they are introduced, contact your elected Congressional Representatives and Senators, and ask them to cosponsor and fully fund the bills. [See top right of this page for links to the proposed legislation].

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 © 2005-2011: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Seventh 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.