Vietnam War Veterans: Burden of Proof
John J. Bury Salem-News.com
(MEDIA, Pa.) - Vietnam veterans who never had boots-on-ground Vietnam, who are sick from presumptive exposure to agent orange dioxin poisoning are tied up in paperwork. The burden of proof is placed solely upon the veteran. Burden of proof is mainly directed to those service members who never had boots-on-ground. Presumptive exposure for these service members is most difficult of all to provide evidence for.
In nearly all cases, the Veterans Affairs (VA) requires evidence relative to exposure to this deadly herbicide. The mere fact that the service member without boots-on-ground can show proof of military service, and proof of having been awarded the Vietnam Service Medal and medical proof of illness is in nearly all cases, not evidence enough for VA disability. Except for those who had boots-on-ground.
The herbicide was sprayed on the lands of the Republic of Vietnam. Consequently, much of this herbicide found its way miles out into the South China Sea because of run-off. This spraying was authorized by the Department of Defense and our Federal Government. The governing authorities knew the use of this deadly herbicide could be harmful to members of the U.S. Armed Forces engaged in the Vietnam War on land, at sea and in the air. The Institute Of Medicine (IOM) report has proven the toxicity of Agent Orange Dioxin. This was an irresponsible action on the part of our Government to poison we who served. That authority should be held accountable.
In 1991, the Congress passed a Bill that authorized the VA to approve all agent orange exposure claims for disability. In 2002, The Bush administration took away authorized disability claims from those service members who did not have boots-on-ground Vietnam.
Ask why do we who served and fought in this war need insurmountable evidence of proof? Evidence other then the above evidence provided by the veteran? Is the afore mentioned evidence not enough that we were there? No matter if we were on land, at sea or in the air?
Is this just another way our Government has authorized the VA to make disability claims impossible to get, by creating unnecessary paperwork placed upon the service member?
The reality is, we were there and we were poisoned.
If more evidence is required by the VA, then that burden of proof should be on the VA, other then evidence the veteran has submitted for disability health care claim for dioxin poisoning, to include due compensation. Our Legislators must be urged to do what is right and correct the errors made in times past. The Senate and Congress Veterans Affairs Committees need to approve Senate Bill S-1629 and House Bill HR-3612. These Bills then need to be sent to the Floor of both Houses and swiftly passed.
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