What's the Problem?For you younger kids, Agent Orange was a poison we sprayed on Vietnam to make it harder for the enemy to hide in the jungle.
Problem is, the poison got on our guys too and causes all sorts of problems. Since they were essentially wounded in service, the surviving veterans deserve care for their wounds.
Problem is, some of the wounded were "Blue Water Navy". Those supply ships carrying the poison wouldn't necessarily touch shore, just pull up and dump stuff off. The sailors who didn't set foot in Vietnam got exposed all the same in the normal course of handling the poison.
Problem is, when the Blue Water Vets try to get help for their injuries, the Courts ruled in Haas vs. Peake that they are Shucks-Out-Of-Luck. The reasoning is crazy .... the Court says it's just TOO HARD to figure out whether a ship came close to Vietnam; the Court never having heard of a ship's log.
What's the Solution?The Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009 is to fix this maddening injustice. If you have a yellow ribbon on your SUV, you'd better call your congresscritter to support this thing ... before the Blue Water vets are all dead and you can just wax sentimental.
According to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs:
Congress Must Act to Restore Earned Benefits to All Vietnam Veterans – Including “Blue Water” Vets!
May 8, 2009
Washington, D.C. – House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) announced the introduction of H.R. 2254, a bill to restore equity to all Vietnam veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange.
“We owe it to our veterans to fulfill the promises made to them as a result of their service,” said Chairman Filner (D-CA). “If, as a result of service, a veteran was exposed to Agent Orange and it has resulted in failing health, this country has a moral obligation to care for each veteran the way we promised we would. And as a country at war, we must prove that we will be there for all of our veterans, no matter when they serve. The courts have turned their backs on our veterans, but I believe this Congress will not allow our veterans to be cheated of their earned benefits.”
H.R. 2254 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 on borders and other areas of neighboring 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 a “foot on land” occurrence 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 and the Supreme Court later denied certiorari essentially affirming this ruling. However, Congress clearly did not intend to exclude these veterans from compensation based on arbitrary geographic line drawing by VA.
H.R. 2254 is intended to clarify the law so that Blue Water veterans and 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 are linked to toxic exposures during the Vietnam War and that are identified in current law.
Chairman John Hall leads the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, the subcommittee with jurisdiction over these issues. He stated, “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. This is the cost of war. We asked these brave men and women to fight for us and serve their country, and it is a grave injustice that they have had to wait this long for treatment. We must place care of our soldiers among our top priorities. This applies for all past, present, and future conflicts.”
“Time is running out for these veterans,” concluded Chairman Filner. “Many are dying from their Agent Orange related diseases, uncompensated for their sacrifice. There is still a chance for America to meet its obligations to these noble veterans. I will work with my Congressional colleagues to provide the earned disability benefits and health care to the thousands of Navy blue water veterans and survivors that earned this care in battle.”
What's can Little Old Me Do?
- Call your Congresscritter; you can get the 800 number at www.callcongress.orgAsk your Representatives whether they support the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009; if they do, thank them nicely; if they don't, ask why not? Letters o.k. too, but take too long to get through the anthrax screening; emails are better than nothing but are so easy to do that they lack punch. A phonecall to your rep's local office might be good too.
- Read the Text of the bill
- See who's sponsoring it and what the bill status is on GovTrack
- Pick apart the idiotic court decision that lead to denying health care to injured "Blue Water" veterans: Haas vs. Peake
- Remember, HR 2254 appears to be a re-start of the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008, but let's hope the new Congress can get'r'done this time
- Learn more about Agent Orange and the Blue Water Navy.