Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gillibrand, Graham To Help 250,000 Vietnam Vets Harmed By Agent Orange, But Ignored By Feds Due To Technicality In The Law
Current Law Would Require VA to Provide Benefits for Service Members Exposed to Agent Orange On Dry Ground, But Ignores Vets In the Water

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced legislation to ensure that more than 250,000 Navy veterans from the Vietnam War exposed to the powerful toxin Agent Orange will be eligible to receive the disability and health care benefits they have earned for diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed approximately 20 million gallons of Agent Orange in Vietnam to remove jungle foliage. This toxic chemical had devastating effects for millions serving in Vietnam. In 1991, Congress passed a law requiring the Veterans Administration (VA) to provide presumptive coverage to Vietnam veterans with illnesses that the Institute of Medicine has directly linked to Agent Orange exposure. However, in 2002 the VA determined that it would only cover Veterans who could prove that they had orders for “boots on the ground” during the Vietnam War. This exclusion affects as many as 250,000 sailors who may have still received significant Agent Orange exposure from receiving VA benefits.

“Because of technicality in the law, hundreds of thousands of American veterans are being denied the benefits they need and deserve,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Our government must fulfill its commitment to the service members who have fallen victim to Agent Orange-related disease and enact new legislation that will provide our vets with the disability compensation and healthcare benefits they have earned. Agent Orange is a very difficult chapter in our nation’s history. It is time that we correct the errors of the past.”

“This is a legacy issue that needs to be dealt with,” said Senator Graham. “There are Vietnam vets who are suffering from Agent-Orange related illnesses and we need to ensure they are getting the care they need. It’s now time to ensure the government takes care of their needs which were incurred during their defense of our nation.”


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