Friday, September 27, 2013

Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange Deserve VA Benefits

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in a letter to the Veterans Administration (VA) to reexamine its benefits policy for veterans exposed to Agent Orange after the Vietnam War.  Veterans who served on Agent Orange spray aircraft after the Vietnam War are facing serious health issues today due to their exposure to military herbicide residue.  These veterans served our country without knowledge of the risk to their health and they deserve to be treated fairly by the VA.  Despite evidence and support from the country’s top experts on Agent Orange, the VA refuses to provide these veterans with disability benefits. 
From 1972 to 1982, between 1500 and 2500 aircrew, aerial port, and maintenance staff served on C-123 aircraft that had been used during the Vietnam War to spray military herbicides, including Agent Orange.  Many of the country’s top experts on Agent Orange, including the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, have written detailed statements supporting the crewmembers’ likely exposure to Agent Orange.  Despite this overwhelming evidence and support from the scientific community, the VA denies that any level of exposure to dioxin occurred.  As a result, many veterans’ disability claims have been denied by the VA.
After publication of a Washington Post storyhighlighting the serious health issues facing the C-123 veterans and the VA’s refusal to grant them benefits, the VA reversedits denial of disability benefits for LTCOL Paul Bailey.  This is a positive development, but there are still many other sick veterans waiting for the benefits they have earned.. 
Please join us in writing to Secretary Shinseki urging him to reevaluate previously denied claims and carefully consider pending claims.  To sign this letter, please contact Carly Katz in Rep. Bonamici’s office at Claire Cozad in Rep. Cook’s office at by COB October 3.


Suzanne Bonamici                                          Paul Cook
Member of Congress                                      Member of Congress

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