Monday, September 17, 2018

Sucker-punched, blind-sided and betrayed

Vietnam War Navy veterans claim the new head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert Wilkie, stabbed them in the back by promising to meet with them and instead, fired off a letter trying to kill a bill that grants them Agent Orange benefits.
Wilkie sent a letter to Sen. Johnny Isakson (R)-Georgia claiming, "science does not support extending Agent Orange benefits to Blue Water Navy veterans."
"When I met with Secretary Wilkie at his confirmation hearing, he promised me a meeting on this subject," said John Wells, Executive Director of Military Veterans Advocacy, Inc. 
Instead of a face-to-face, John Wells accuses Robert Wilke of betrayal. 
Wilkie sent the letter to Isakson, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, which is now considering the legislation. 
The letter claims the bill will cost more than anticipated and create a bigger claims backlog.
According to John Wells, Wilkie is distorting the facts.
"He's come out with inaccurate and inflammatory material designed to convince Senate Chairman Johnny Isakson to not move this bill forward," Wells said.
For years, the VA opposed extending benefits to veterans who served on ships in the harbors, bays and territorial waters of Vietnam.
In June, the house unanimously passed the bill granting them benefits long denied.
Blue Water Navy veterans contend Agent Orange seeped from rivers and streams into harbors, bays and territorial waters.
Ships unknowingly pulled in contaminated water, desalinating it for drinking, bathing and cooking.

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