Thursday, April 26, 2012

Arguments for Expanding the AO Equity Act - Part 1

Today we begin a three part series that will continue into next week. We are offering a three part argument for expanding the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2011 [HR 3612/S.1629] and doing away with the requirement that ships must have been inside the twelve mile limit. Today's entry is the basic argument for expansion.  As you will see, we believe it can be done with no additional cost.

Regarding the 12 mile limit. 

90% of the ships that received the Vietnam Service Medal [VSM] spent time inside the 12 mile limit. Even the carriers would venture in on occasion, one even anchoring in Danang Harbor. The carriers would come in close to make travel time shorter for their aircraft coming and going over Vietnam, and to shorten the return trip for a wounded plane or pilot. They also did a lot of ground support on short notice while big land ops were happening.

So, the increase in money to cover that last 10% of ships is not going to be much. We believe that cost will be offset by savings from the reduced processing time required to process a claim if the VSM is used: Verify receipt of the VSM, verify an AO disease, verify discharge better than dishonorable = Approve! The Veteran needs to file his claim and provide a DD-214 including verification of award of the VSM, and a copy of his current medical condition from his physician showing one or more of the AO Related diseases. Estimated processing time from receipt: two-eight weeks [to obtain verifications], plus time to schedule and process a Compensation and Pension examination to determine the level of disability [rating].

On the other hand, making the Veteran prove he was aboard a vessel when it entered and operated inside the 12 mile limit requires the Veteran to acquire copies of his ship’s Deck Logs [from the National Archives], plot out the course [on a nautical chart] his ship followed on the dates when the ship was inside the territorial limits, and provide that proof to the DVA [which must: assist the Veteran in obtaining evidence, but seldom does], and then examine the evidence to judge it acceptable evidence of presumptive exposure. Estimated processing time from start of claim: 3-24 months. Add it to the backlog of unprocessed VA claims, which already stands at over a million claims and the wait can be even longer.

It is an undue burden to place on the Veteran claimant to jump through so many hoops.

It is also far more costly to the DVA, and therefore the taxpayers to impose such requirements.  

Humanitarian issues:

Dropping the 12 mile limit and replacing it with receipt of the Vietnam Service Medal, or the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Service in Vietnam would:
[A] result in greatly reduced claim approval time resulting in faster receipt of medical care and financial benefits;
[B] catch all the BWN who are eligible who would not be able to prove being aboard ship while it was inside the territorial limit; and
[C] more quickly get the VA “over the hump” of processing a large number of new claims, thus freeing them up to work on their existing backlog.
We would note that many of those who would be covered under this bill are a part of that current backlog with active pending claims. Designating 3-5% of the claims processors in each Regional Office to handle claims under this authorization will decrease the backlog because it would eliminate those Blue Water Navy claims currently pending, and alleviate the caseload of the Veterans Courts for those Blue Water Navy claims currently under appeal.

Monday:  Estimating the total cost of the bill.  


”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 © 2005-2012: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eighth 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.


  1. Anonymous15:31

    Makes so much sense I'm afraid they won't understand it. Of course it isn't the DVA you have to convince so maybe there's a chance after all.

  2. Anonymous21:58

    Thought I'd share the response I got from my Representative, Mr Jeff Miller. He had sponsered Filners original bill and I wrote urging him to do the same with the new one; Here is what he had to say:

    Thank you very much for contacting my office regarding the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2011. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know your opinions on an issue of such importance to you and your family.

    As one of your elected officials, it is imperative that I know how the constituents of Northwest Florida feel on federal issues. I strive to achieve a strong dialogue with my constituents and to represent the best interests of all those whom I represent.

    You may know that I was elected to serve as the Chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs for the 112th Congress. As Chairman, I feel it necessary to maintain impartiality on all bills introduced by my colleagues which have been referred to the committee. While I do not plan to co-sponsor any legislation that may come before our committee, I can assure you that I remain committed to ensuring our veterans receive the very best in health care and the benefits they earned, and I have supported similar legislation in the past.

  3. Chairman Miller is an extremely valuable asset to have in our corner. Now, if we can get him to commit to the concepts of this post and the next two we would be in fantastic shape.

    How about going to bat with him?

  4. Anonymous10:42

    He DID commit pretty strongly in his endorsement and support of our cause with the Filner bill; I can understand his position re not actually endorsing a bill due to his position as Chairman but you can believe he will be reminded pretty constantly of the sentiments he put forth in this response and his past support. His email was in response to one sent by me a month ago....I will send him another including this first installment....and then the others as they come make sure you use your spell checker (G)

  5. You should contact me by email to get a whole copy.