Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Vets Groups Take VA to Court

For More information contact: Military-Veterans Advocacy Executive Director
Commander John B Wells, USN Retired
985 641-1855 (o) 985-290-6940 (c)
On March 10, 2016, at 9:30 am. Military-Veterans Advocacy, in concert with the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association, will ask the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to recognize that a federal district court has jurisdiction to ascertain whether or not the Department of Veterans Affairs acted arbitrarily and capriciously in excluding tens of thousands of Navy Vietnam veterans from the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange. In 2002, the VA unilaterally stripped those benefits from Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who served in the bays, harbors and territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam. Known as "Blue Water Navy" veterans they have been deprived of earned benefits because they cannot show that they set foot in Vietnam or sailed into an inland river.
On March 11, 2015, federal Judge Tonya S. Chutkan ruled that while "[t]he Court is sympathetic to the many challenges faced by Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans and their families" that her court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
Hydrologist studies have shown that the river water, which was heavily sprayed with Agent Orange, mixed with the salt water in the harbors and territorial seas. One study confirmed that the river water, known as the discharge plume, extended for several hundred kilometers into the South China Sea off the Mekong River. The Agent Orange, which was mixed with diesel fuel to enhance its ability to adhere to plant life, was sprayed throughout South Vietnam, including the coast line and the river banks.
"It’s a tough concept for the VA to grasp," Military-Veterans Advocacy Executive Director John B Wells said in testimony before the United States Senate on September 29, 2015. "Petroleum floats and rivers run out to sea."
In a statement, Wells noted. "There was no magic, invisible Agent Orange filter at the mouth of the rivers." The Agent Orange entered the bays, harbors and territorial seas of Vietnam. We have documented proof of its presence in Nha Trang Harbor, 20 years after the war. That evidence has been presented to the VA. The distillation system which produced drinking water and water for the boilers did not remove the dioxin - it enriched it." Wells, a retired Navy Commander, served as Chief Engineer officer on several Navy ships. His area of responsibility included the water distillation and distribution system. The distillation effect on the Agent Orange Dioxin has been verified by the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia and by two committees of the United States’ Institute of Medicine. At the September 29 Senate hearing, Mr. David R. McLenachen, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Disability Assistance, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs conceded that the shipboard evaporation distillation system would have enriched the Agent Orange dioxin if it was present in the water.
The March 10, 2016 oral argument will be held at the federal courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington DC.

Commander J. B. Wells U. S. Navy (Retired)
Attorney at Law
Executive Director
Military-Veterans Advocacy, Inc.
PO Box 5235
Slidell, LA 70469-5235
985-641-1855985-641-1855 985-649-1536 (fax)

No comments:

Post a Comment