Wednesday, December 12, 2018

VVA Condemns Obstruction of “Blue Water Navy” Bill by Sen. Enzi




IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                            December 11, 2018 No. 18-25
Mokie Porter
301-996-0901

VVA Condemns Obstruction of “Blue Water Navy” Bill by Sen. Enzi

(Washington, D.C.) -- “It is beyond disappointing that a single senator, Mike Enzi (R-WY), has obstructed H.R. 299, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, a bill that was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 382-0 and would assuredly pass in the Senate if the members of that body were given the opportunity to vote on it,” said John Rowan, VVA National President.

On Monday, December 10, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) brought up the Blue Water Navy bill on the floor of the Senate. When she asked for unanimous consent, it was the senior senator from Wyoming, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who objected, citing cost concerns and saying that it would cause “budgetary and operational pressures that would happen at the VA.”

Earlier this year, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie voiced opposition to the legislation, reversing an earlier commitment by his predecessor, Dr. David Shulkin, to “do the right thing.”

“Congress is only too glad to throw money, and lots of it, at the Department of Defense for questionable programs, citing the need for a strong defense,” said Rowan. “The Senate is being prevented from ‘doing the right thing’ for a relative handful of veterans who served with honor in the waters off the coast of Vietnam and are now hurting from effects of exposure to Agent Orange.”

“Contrary to the VA’s assertions, we have the science that shows the pathways of exposure to this insidious herbicide. So we endorse the sentiments of two legislators, a Republican senator and a Democratic congressman, who make the case for passing this long-needed legislation.”

“This is an issue of justice,” said Senator Steve Daines (R-MT). “This is an issue of bureaucracy, frankly, not doing the intent of what Congress was, when it was originally passed. And this would clarify that so that we can make sure these vets get the benefits they deserve.”

“All too often,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), “members of this Congress are willing to pay lip service to the sacrifices our military and military veterans make, then fall into the trap of playing politics when there’s a chance to actually do something to help them.”


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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - Agent Orange Newsletter

MESSAGE FROM DR. LOREN ERICKSON

Dr. Loren Erickson , MD, MPH, DrPH
As both a Veteran and the son of a Vietnam Veteran, and as the Director and Chief Consultant for VA’s Post Deployment Health Services (PDHS), I welcome you to the 2018 issue of the Agent Orange Newsletter. This newsletter includes information for Veterans and their families who may be concerned about herbicide exposure. I appreciate the contributions of Veterans, and I hope this issue of the newsletter provides you with helpful information.
This issue provides information on the conditions that VA presumes are caused by Agent Orange exposure and how to obtain benefits for health conditions. You can also read about the health care and benefits available to those who have lived or worked at Camp Lejeune and about liver fluke infection from eating undercooked or raw fish during military service in Southeast Asia. In addition, this issue profiles Veterans who have served in Vietnam and their reflections on VA services, including the Agent Orange Registry.
PDHS is a VA-delivered Foundational Service, meaning its work is fundamental to VA’s mission and is rarely found outside of VA. Along with the information provided in this newsletter, you can learn more from PDHS about diseases, benefits, and other resources related to Agent Orange at:

Monday, December 10, 2018

Torpedoing the Navy Veterans Agent Orange Bill

Is The Seven-Year Effort To Care For Blue Water Navy Veterans Exposed To Agent Orange Being Torpedoed By Senate Republicans And President Trump?
Where We Were December 3, 2018:
H.R 299, The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act Of 2018, was passed by the U.S. House unanimously, 382 to 0, and went to the Senate on June 25. but a week ago, in an article from Tom Philpott in Stars and Stripes, we learned that as many as four Senators had placed a hold on the bill that President Trump has already agreed to sign, and that the bill was in jeopardy of failure, after seven years of legislative work by the non-profit, Military Veterans Advocacy, Inc. (MVA). Senators Paul Rand (R-Ky), Mike Lee (R-Ut), Mike Enzi (R-Wy) And Bill Cassidy (R-La) either had concerns about the veracity of the science or costs associated with the bill after years of research, gathering of eye-witness affidavits, capitol hill political wrangling, and several years of attempted passage of the bill, not to mention an estimated 20,000 deaths of the approximately 90,000 U.S. Navy Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

Navy Vietnam veterans feeling betrayed march on VA

WASHINGTON (WFLA) - Navy Vietnam Veterans marched from a Washington, D.C. federal courthouse to the steps of VA headquarters with a message: They were poisoned at sea.
New Port Richey veteran Mike Kvintus was among them.
"All of us veterans have taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and with that oath, we expect the country to take care of us," the Navy veteran said.
Instead, with a stroke of a pen, the VA abandoned 90,000 Navy Vietnam veterans who did not step foot on Vietnam soil.
The VA contends unlike troops that served on the ground, these Blue Water Navy veterans were not exposed to Agent Orange.
"It's a national disgrace as far as I'm concerned," Mike added.
The military sprayed 20 million gallons of the toxic herbicide Agent Orange on Vietnam.
It ran into rivers and streams. It contaminated harbors and bays.
Ships like the American Victory, which served in Vietnam, turned contaminated sea water into fresh water. The distillation process only enhanced the chemicals, unknowingly poisoning crew members.
"We took water and distilled it, and actually bathed in it, ate food cooked in it and drank it," Mike explained.
Mike served on the U.S.S. Buchanan, a destroyer that according to deck logs, anchored in Da Nang Harbor when the military sprayed Agent Orange.
"The plume covered that whole harbor," Mike recalled.
The herbicide is known to cause at least 14 illnesses, including some cancers.
Mike suffers from three of the conditions.
"No one else in my family has any of these issues," Mike said.
A bill providing health care coverage and disability benefits for the Blue Water Navy veterans sailed through the U.S. House of Representatives, passing unanimously.
Republican Mike Lee of Utah holds it hostage in the Senate.

Price of Service: Health care program available for vets who served at Camp Lejeune

With a name like Marine, it sounds like a foregone conclusion what Richard Marine would be, but it wasn't easy. He was sitting in his seat on the bus going to boot camp at Parris Island when the drill instructor came on the bus.
“He was going through the checklist of names, “Richard recalled. “And he stopped and said, ‘I don’t believe this. You know who you are, stand up.’ And I assumed he was speaking to me because of my last name, which was correct. From that point forward, I had a certain level of special attention in order to earn the title Marine.”
After graduating boot camp at Parris Island in the summer of 1969, it was on to 10 weeks of infantry training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
“Everything I learned in the Marine Corps I was able to apply in life. I said life was wonderful and that's really the truth because we raised our kids, established our roots in the community, and got involved with a lot of things that were fun and fulfilling, and here we are. Despite what I consider to be myriad benefits, there was a significant price.”
In 2008 came the news that changed his life: he was diagnosed with cancer.
“People don't realize when they get struck down by cancer they don't immediately jump back to their time in service,” Richard said. "You don't even know how to make the connections.”

Thursday, December 6, 2018

December 7, 1941


Agent Orange: Actions Needed to Improve Accuracy and Communication of Information on Testing and Storage Locations, Report to Congressional Addressees

Homeland Security Digital Library

"The House report accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 included a provision that GAO [Government Accountability Office] review the government's handling of Agent Orange on Guam. This report examines (1) information the federal government has about the procurement, distribution, use, and disposition of Agent Orange; (2) DOD and VA [Veterans Affairs] efforts to make information about where Agent Orange and its components were tested and stored available; and (3) challenges associated with Agent Orange testing. GAO reviewed agency policies, documents, and available archival records that GAO identified; interviewed DOD, VA, and other agency officials; and met with a non-generalizable sample of 38 veterans and a veterans service organization."

Report Number:               GAO-18-24
Publisher:            United States. Government Accountability Office
Date:     2018-11
Copyright:           Public Domain
Retrieved From:               Government Accountability Office: https://www.gao.gov/
Format: pdf
Media Type:       application/pdf

Monday, December 3, 2018

Nature: 50 years after the US army sprayed Agent Orange over Vietnam, the wildlife is fighting back

Dawn. Smokin’ jungle either side of the Ho Chi Minh Highway: deep thick forest like giant broccoli, standing proud and high on slopes of dizzying steepness. A sweet coolness in the air that won’t last. And then the singing began: a joyous lamentation that filled the air above the trees, ringing out from one valley to the next.
Southern white-cheeked gibbons. Classified as endangered. They sound like the Clangers with more feeling: long, heartbreaking, ululating phrases that form the national anthem of the family that does the singing. It’s about family, territory, life, and the future. This is our home. Let’s keep it that way. It was a sentiment I encountered again and again in Vietnam.

H.R. 299 CBO Cost Estimate

READ ALL ABOUT IT!
On May 15, 2018, the Congressional Budget Office transmitted an estimate of the budgetary effects of H.R. 299, a bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes, as ordered reported by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on May 8, 2018. Among other things, the act would provide disability compensation to more of the veterans who served in the territorial seas of Vietnam during the Vietnam War under the assumption that they had been exposed to Agent Orange, a blend of herbicides used by the Department of Defense to remove dense tropical foliage. CBO estimated that those provisions would increase direct spending by about $900 million over the 2019-2028 period.
The bill that was passed by the House amended the earlier version to expand the nautical area in which veterans would be presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. That change would increase CBO’s estimate of the costs of the legislation by about $250 million to account for the additional veterans that would be affected.