Thursday, August 13, 2015

'Blue Water' veteran bill continues to gain momentum
Legislation U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, introduced to establish "presumed coverage" for so-called "Blue Water" veterans for treatment of Agent Orange exposure now has 264 co-sponsors, well over half the number of House members, according to the Library of Congress government information web site.
Co-sponsors from 48 states, Guam, District of Columbia and Northern Mariana Islands include area Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, and Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam.
The legislation -- HR 969 -- has 143 Democratic co-sponsors and 121 Republican co-sponsors.
The legislation would clarify existing law so veterans would be automatically covered by the federal Veterans Administration for treatment of Agent Orange exposure if they served within the "territorial seas," approximately 12 miles offshore of Vietnam.
Agent Orange is a toxic chemical used to remove jungle foliage.
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed about 20 million gallons of the chemical in Vietnam.
Currently, veterans only have presumed coverage if they were actually on the ground in Vietnam.
Others are decided on a case-by-case basis, which can be a lengthy process.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has introduced companion legislation to Gibson's House bill in the Senate.

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