Monday, April 29, 2013

FRA says "Thank you!"

Our good and loyal friends at the Fleet Reserve Association [FRA] have sent you a thank you note:

FRA Storms Capitol Hill

Members of FRA's National Board of Directors and other Association leaders brought the enlisted perspective to Capitol Hill this week as they visited their respective elected officials in Washington, D.C.   These shipmates shared the Association's position on priority legislative issues with their respective senators and representatives, asking them to oppose the Administration's call for drastically higher TRICARE Prime fees and pharmacy co-pays and new enrollment fees for TRICARE Standard and new TRICARE-for-Life (TFL) beneficiaries. They also asked that current TRICARE Prime beneficiaries that live outside TRICARE's Prime Service Areas (PSA) be allowed to continue to have access to Prime coverage (grandfathered) until they re-locate or change their current primary care provider. Shipmates also asked that Congress make adequate physician reimbursements ("doc fix") for Medicare/TRICARE patients permanent. Furthermore, FRA leaders asked lawmakers to take action to reduce the disability claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and extend disability benefits to Blue Water veterans exposed to the Agent Orange herbicide while serving off the coast of Vietnam.



FRA thanks the more than 3,800 shipmates who supported our efforts with email messages sent through the FRA Action Center this week.

If you are not a member of this fine organization, you should be.  Visit them today and join.  Click here for the Main FRA page, and click on the top button at the top right of the page that says, “Join FRA”.

They support you, don’t you think you should support them?

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 © 2005-2013: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Ninth 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.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Revisiting AO on US Navy Ships



Back in January of 2012, we posted a lengthy discussion on the presence, or non-presence of herbicides on commissioned US Navy ships.   [Read ‘AO on Navy Ships’]  We asked for photographic evidence and we received only one response, apparently showing barrels of Agent White, one of the tactical herbicides widely sprayed in Vietnam.  We then posted the photos in a follow-up post.  [View the photos in ‘The Exception to the Rule’]

We have been back over the photographs purportedly showing herbicides, particularly the white bands on the barrels laid out on the deck of the USS Ponchatoula AO 148.  We have looked closely at discernible shadows and sun angles and come to the conclusion that those barrels that appear to have white bands are, in fact, not painted bands but reflections of direct sunlight on the two wide sections that run around the barrel at 1/3 and 2/3 of their length.

Please notice, on the image above, how the light is reflected on those wide sections.  That is what appears as the white bands in the photos from the Ponchatoula.  Additional evidence is seen in the number of bands on some barrels.  The sun is obviously coming from the right.  You can see it in the bottom photo where the shadow of the barrels puts the sun to the right, high and on the other side of the clutch of barrels.  Some barrels in the top photo have only one stripe, while others have two.  Certainly, in one shipment, all barrels would be marked the same. 

That leads us to the conclusion that if herbicides were shipped on commissioned US Navy ships, the incidence of this was so low as to be statistically insignificant.  By this we mean that to attempt to use the presence of herbicides on your ship as part of your claim will not only be unsuccessful, but it could also damage the credibility of your claim.  In other words, we caution all Blue Water Veterans NOT to use this in their claims, not to use it when contacting your elected officials, and not to write letters to the editor claiming it was carried on board commissioned US Navy ships.  You may not care about your credibility, but when a bunch of these letters to the editor start showing up, or Congress starts getting emails, and calls with this claim in them, it affects not only your claim’s credibility, but also the credibility of all other Blue Water Veterans' claims.  It may also result in claim delay while the VA attempts to verify and validate your claim of herbicides on your ship.

Do yourself and all of the Blue Water Navy Veterans a favor and simply drop the issue.  There is not enough evidence to support it, there is plenty of evidence against it, it will not get you anywhere, and in the end, is a waste of time and effort.    

A better use of your time is to pressure Congress to pass HR 543, the Blue Water Navy Agent Orange Act of 2013.  The bill now has 92 cosponsors and needs at least 200 more to show significant support.  Contact your elected federal officials at their local offices closest to you.  And you can always use the Fleet Reserve Association’s Congressional Contact page [click here].

It’s time to stop spinning your wheels on wasted efforts and push for what will be the most attainable success, and that is the passage of HR 543.  Put your effort and energy toward that. 


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 © 2005-2013: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Ninth 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.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Urgent! Help FRA Storm Capitol Hill


General Quarters!  General Quarters!  This is NO drill!

Send a Barrage of E-mails to Legislators!

Our great friends at the FRA have requested your help:

FRA’s National Board of Directors will storm Capitol Hill on Thursday to share shipmates’ concerns with lawmakers. Get involved from home by contacting your legislators about the Association’s highest priorities.  Please use the Action Center to send a barrage of e-mails to your senators and representative that will re-enforce the messages being delivered in person by your FRA leaders. 

Click here to send a letter to your Representative and your Senators!  It is easy.  Text is already in place.  Just follow the directions. 

 I just did it.  It took four minutes!


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 © 2005-2013: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Ninth 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.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Updates on Legislation


Here are the latest updates on legislation of interest to Veterans, and in particular, to Blue Water Sailors of the Vietnam War.

HR 543, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013 has had an increase in the number of cosponsors.  It now numbers 92 [62 Democrats and 30 Republicans in a House dominated by a Republican Majority is not good.  And only 92 after the House recess for Easter makes this showing rather pitiful.]  Perhaps the poor results of our efforts to garner cosponsors is the reason Senator Gillibrand has not introduced the companion bill in the Senate?  Why do so when there is such weak support in the House?   

HR 164, The 100% Disabled Veterans Travel Bill, which would allow free travel on a space available basis for 100% service-connected disabled Veterans on military aircraft.  This bill now has 114 cosponsors [62 Republican, 52 Democrat, which shows the balance in the house, and that Republicans really are not afraid to vote for Veterans benefits.  Its companion bill in the Senate is S.346.

HR 1492, introduced by Representative Jim McDermott [D-WA 7], “To establish the Commission on America and its Veterans.”  We have no idea what this is about, and will not until the text is returned from the Government Printing Office sometime next week.  That said, we think it prudent for any legislation involving both a “commission” and “veterans” should be tracked.

HR 1494, a bill introduced by Representative Christopher Gibson [R-NY 19], “To direct the Secretary of Defense to review the operation of certain ships during the Vietnam Era, and for other purposes.”  This was just introduced and the text of the legislation has not been returned from the Government Printing Office yet, so it is unavailable.  We suspect this may have something to do with the Department of Defense cooperating more fully with requests from the VA for records of ships serving off Vietnam, but will have to wait for the text to appear next week to be sure.

HR 1497, a bill introduced by Representative Duncan Hunter [D-CA 50], “To amend title 36, United States Code, to ensure that memorials commemorating the service of the United States Armed Forces may contain religious symbols, and for other purposes.”, and a companion bill in the Senate, S.705, introduced by Senator Richard Burr [R-NC], both bills in response to a recent news story about religious symbols being prevented from the graves of Veterans.

In the meantime, we have added trackers to take you to the Library of Congress’ Thomas site for each of these bills, as we already have for HR 543 and HR 164 & S.346, at the top of the right side column.    

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 © 2005-2013: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Ninth 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.

Monday, April 08, 2013

News and a note from the FRA


There is not much happening in Congress except the threat to change the current COLA formula [the same one Social Security uses] to a new “Chained CPI” formula that would, you guessed it, reduce COLA for Veterans as much as a half to two thirds what they would get if they left the formula alone.  

We certainly do not know where this is coming from, but it displays the current Congressional mindset toward Veterans: “go away!”

Funny, they didn’t say that to the troops they’ve been abusing with multiple deployments over the past ten years. 
 
It is the same Congressional lack of respect the Blue Water Navy Veterans have been getting since 2002. 
-------------------------------------------------------
While that has been simmering since the session started in January, our good friends from the Fleet Reserve Association paid a visit to Fox News Channel.  Here is what they report in their weekly newsletter:

FRA on Fox News Channel
"John Davis, FRA's director of Legislative Programs, shared FRA's concern over  the growing backlog of veterans' disability claims during an interview that  aired on the Fox News Channel this week.  This is a top FRA priority and was addressed by FRA National President Mark Kilgore when he testified before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees in March.

"Davis cited shipmates' concerns about claims processing delays and the Association’s continuing interaction with members of Congress and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials on this issue.  He also spoke about VA efforts to improve training for claims personnel, streamline the claims process, and leverage technology to speed up the adjudication process.  He also called for added benefits for "blue water" veterans, who were exposed to Agent Orange while serving off the coast of Vietnam, and expressed the FRA's disappointment with the recent announcement that the VA and Department of Defense (DoD) are abandoning efforts to create a single electronic health record for active duty military personnel and veterans.

"To view the interview, visit

-------------------------------------------------------

If you are not a member of this fine organization you should be.  They have not forgotten us, and stand out front on the Blue Water Navy issue.  They, along with the VVA, and the American Legion, have consistently brought our plight up to Congress and in the media. 


Join the Fleet Reserve Association today and support them in their efforts to support all Veterans, in addition to those of us in the Blue Water Navy predicament. 

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 © 2005-2013: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Ninth 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.