Paul Lawrence, Undersecretary for VA Benefits, recently unleashed a blistering attack against the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (HR 229), which would extend disability benefits to at least 70,000 Vietnam vets suffering from dioxin-related ailments.
Agent Orange, commonly used as a defoliant in the thick jungles of Vietnam, causes these ailments, and there is clear and convincing scientific evidence that these 70,000 veterans were also exposed to this chemical.
These soldiers were shipboard personnel who generally patrolled about 12 miles off the coastline, but precedent does suggest that this distance does not preclude Agent Orange exposure. Also, Congress does not differentiate between levels of exposure among land-based Vietnam vets, only whether they were exposed or not.
VA is raring to go, citing “lack of sufficient scientific evidence” to grant these benefits, urging Senators to worry about “uncontrolled demands” for future VA benefits.
He specifically urged the Senate because this bill has already passed the House. UNANIMOUSLY. How rare must it be, in this age of polarized parties, that the House passes a bill unanimously?
As the former, doomed VA Secretary David Shulkin said of this legislation, “these veterans have waited too long and this is a responsibility that this country has.