Friday, April 23, 2010
H. R. 2254 and S-1939
This life-saving bill is designed to extend the presumption of herbicide (Agent Orange) exposure to US Navy veterans serving offshore. Informally, we are told that members of the House are hesitant to move because of its potential cost. It is estimated that approximately 265,000 “blue water” Navy and/or US Marine Corps personnel or their surviving family members will file claims if these two bills become law.
In 1999, the Royal Australian Department of Veterans Affairs discovered Agent Orange related cancers among sailors of their Navy who had never set foot in Vietnam . Australian Sailors were developing cancer at an even higher rate than those who served on the ground. The Australians found that the distilling process, used by ships to convert salt water to potable drinking water, was using contaminated water. That process actually enhanced the effect of the dioxin producing an Agent Orange cocktail that was ingested by the sailors through their drinking water. The American VA has inexplicably rejected the study. Although the Australians have granted an exposure presumption for over five years, the Americans continue to deny the claims.
In July of 2009, the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s committee on Agent Orange independently validated the Australian report and recommended that the exposure presumption be extended to the Navy veterans. The IOM is required by law to provide recommendations and scientific support to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA has rejected the IOM recommendation without adequate explanation.
H. R. 2254 and S-1939 will correct this problem.