Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008

Bob Filner, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, announced the introduction of the Agent Orange Equity Act (HR 6562) with the stated goal to "restore{} equity to all Vietnam veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange". According to the Press Release:
The Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008 would clarify the laws related to VA benefits provided to Vietnam War veterans suffering from the ravages of Agent Orange exposure. In order to try to gain a better military vantage point, Agent Orange, which we now know is a highly toxic cocktail of herbicide agents, was widely sprayed for defoliation and crop destruction purposes all over the Vietnam War Battlefield, as well as nearby nations. It was also stored on U.S. vessels and used for vegetation clearing purposes around U.S. bases, landing zones and lines of communication.
Currently, VA requires Vietnam veterans to prove "foot on land" in order to qualify for the presumptions of service-connection for herbicide-exposure related illnesses afforded under current law. This issue has been the subject of much litigation and on May 8, 2008, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upheld VA’s overly narrow interpretation. Congress clearly did not intend to exclude these veterans from compensation based on arbitrary geographic line drawing by VA.
The Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008 is intended to clarify the law so that every service member awarded the Vietnam Service medal, or who otherwise deployed to land, sea or air, in the Republic of Vietnam is fully covered by the comprehensive Agent Orange laws Congress passed in 1991. If enacted, this bill will make it easier for VA to process Vietnam War veterans’ claims for service-connected conditions that scientists have conclusively linked to toxic exposures during the Vietnam War and that are identified in current law. With this legislation, Congress will leave no doubt that the "Blue Water Navy" and all combat veterans of Vietnam are intended to be covered and compensated; thus ensuring that these veterans will receive the disability benefits they earned and deserve for exposure to Agent Orange.

Naturally, this has excited much discussion.
VNvets blogspot notes:
"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. (MORE)

But VA Watchdog calls the act "Woefully Inadequate" because, as currently written, the act:
"...doesn't include those veterans exposed in nearby countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. He also forgets about other areas through which large quantities of Agent Orange were shipped (and used) such as Guam." (MORE)

Read for yourself, and follow the bill, here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-6562

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Update June 27, 2009: the legislation has been reintroduced as Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009 (HR 2254, 111th Congress)
  • Call your Congresscritter (the local office is probably best since the DC office gets swamped) and ask whether they have sponsored this bill and if not, why not
  • Join the HR2254 Facebook Cause to stay current with the issue and tell others what you learned from contacting Congress. Technology makes it easier to get our representatives moving!

6 comments:

lisa said...

my husband served in offices in Thailand, where the foliage was controlled using agent orange. He died of adenocarcinoma at the age of 49 .... but his hands peeled for years and he suffered tremors. With all that McCain is saying about helping veterans, what about these veterans...and even moreso, what can he and others do to help me and my son? I had a three year old at the time and no offers from the VA. I'd like to take him to the dentist and have a car to take him. Instead I am over my head in student loans for the doctorate I never earned because I had to drop out for my grieving son.

Anonymous said...

This legislation is dead on arrival. And with the new administration/congress next year it is doubtful it will receive much attention anytime in the future. Looks like the blue water navy and other outsiders are out of luck.

rusteco1x@aol.com said...

Hi, My name is George Collins. I was TDY to Utapao twice and then back 1 year PCS 69-70. I am looking for any one who will corroborate seeing a truck pulling a fog machine that drove around the base killing insects and the grass. I repaired that machine and the VA will not give me service connection for Follicular Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I will give you a signed and witnessed affidavit stating that I repaired that spray device, and that Agent Orange was stored and used at Utapao, along with Malathion, used to kill bugs, etc. I need you to see a lawyer or a National Service Officer at the DAV, to attest to and sign an affidavit for me to use in fighting the VA who says there wasn't any defoliants or insecticides used in Thailand at Utapao.

Anonymous said...

Lost my husband of 39 years to adenocarcinoma in May of 2009. He was 1 month from his 61st birthday. He served in Vietnam in 72. Buth the VA claims that Agent Orange wasn't a factor in his death. He left behind 3 children and 9 beautiful granddaughters, 1 of which doesn't understand where her Poppy is. She made every step he did when she was at our house which was almost daily!

Anonymous said...

My grandma has been fighting VA Since 1996. Her husband, my grandpa whom I only remember in the hospital died of Adenocarcinoma he joined the army in 1959 and left 1967, he later joined the navy in 1972 and was honorably discharged in 1984. What I don't understand is why VA is saying that he NEVER went to Vietnam, and he never was enrolled in the Army for that matter. It makes me mad how they keep having my grandma run around in circles. WHAT happened to the 20,000 dollars in life insurance and WHAT happened to the honor and loyalty my papa served for both the Military AND Navy? It's completely selfish of VA and even more so the US military... They do this kind of thing to our veterans, and their families. Never thought my own country would do this to me and to all the ones that grieve and suffer. I will still fight with my grandma, and when she's gone I will fight for her.

Anonymous said...

THE VA does not honor The International Organization of Medicine > IOM REPORT minor Rev. 3 Jan. 2012 (yes, that's minor Rev.3 Jan. 2012). It is a...must read ...for all Vietnam Veterans. THE VA has been sitting on this information since 3 Jan. 2012... wrongfully delaying/denying claims. <> The VA is said to ... readily grant claims... to those that can prove FOOT ON GROUND. However, it is said the Federal Court has ruled that... the mere presence in Vietnam is not proof of one havivg been IN COMBAT. OF The 112th Congress Bills (2011-2012) Agent Orange Equity Act 2011, OF H.R.812, S.1629, H.R,3612,THE VA was...read...THE CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT of December 8,2011 > The Congress shall have the Power * * * to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers,and all Powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof. I am not a lawyer. However, It appears that US suffering Veterans are going to have to go after Departments/Officers of THE VA...for willfull defiance of CONGRESS.