The benefit of the doubt must go to those who put their lives on the line for their countryHow can the federal government be sure that sailors stationed aboard Navy and Coast Guard ships off Vietnam’s coast weren’t exposed to Agent Orange? It can’t, and that’s why the U.S. Senate should pass a House bill that expands health benefits for veterans who served at sea.
The House passed the bill with a bipartisan 382-0 vote in June. Last month, 119 House members, sent the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee a letter urging passage in that chamber, too. The collaboration of so many House members from both parties is a sign of the bill’s worthiness.
The U.S. military used about 20 million gallons of the toxic defoliant Agent Orange in the jungles of Vietnam. Today, the government provides coverage of Agent Orange-related diseases to veterans who served on the ground in Vietnam or sailed in Vietnam’s inland waterways, presuming that those soldiers and sailors came into contact with the toxin.