Bob Bauman is waiting.
Bauman, of Baltimore, remembers the
orange-striped barrels sitting on a pier off Subic Bay in the
Philippines. He’s convinced that they were filled with Agent Orange that
leaked into the water where he and his fellow sailors went swimming.
65, Bauman has diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, colorectal cancer and
essential tremor. He blames the orange-striped barrels, but he hasn’t
received disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The VA grants benefits only to Agent Orange-exposed veterans who served
on the ground or in the rivers of Vietnam. Bauman and his fellow sailors
– known as blue water Navy veterans – served off the coast of Vietnam
and aren’t covered.
The fight between veterans such as Bauman and
the VA has resulted in a cycle of denied claims and a lack of benefits
for the majority of blue water veterans that can stretch several years,
advocates say. Legislation to extend compensation to these veterans was
introduced in the House of Representatives in February, but getting it
through will be difficult: Five previous attempts to secure benefits
have been unsuccessful.
“Fixing the VA is going to take more than
this bill,” said John Wells, the director of legal and legislative
affairs for the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association. “Until the
VA is purged of its bureaucratic resistance to facts, nothing’s going
to get any better.”
READ MORE: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/03/26/4729488/blue-water-navy-veterans-long.html