Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year 2019

As we prepare to usher in the New Year of the Pig, 2019, the highly qualified staff and profoundly incompetent management of the Agent Orange Zone would like to thank a few people without whom none of this would be possible…if we forget a few names it’s not because we have forgotten you, it’s just because at our age we have forgotten a lot more than just you.
In no particular order, THANKS to Mom, Apple Pie, Poto, Tommy Boy, Dortha, George, Zack, Billy, Belshaw, Paul, Nancy, Wayne, Elizabeth, Boy, Charlie, Ed, Ted, Fred, Marsha, Sandy, John, Don, Dan, Sandie, the other George, Amber, Bobby (not that one), Stevie, Lady, Philip, Swamp Rats, another Dan, Anne, Ann, Wayne, Phuong, the Admiral, Dean, Peter, Kate, David, Ned, JD (the other one), Chuck, Elvis, Steve (the Aussie preacher in Hoi An), Willie, Steven, Kenny, Bill, Tom (the other one) Big Joe, JimmyO, Linh and the Phamily, Margie, Betty, Bob, another Chuck, Nghi, Jon, Lt. Pat, Ranger Tom, Mikey, Herb, and a cast of thousands.

In Memory of JCW, January 30, 1942 – November 4, 2018

Lest we forget - Dioxin disaster 35 years ago wiped out town

Mike Kapstick doesn’t just see the sprawling green space, trees and trails when he walks through Route 66 State Park just outside Eureka.
The 53-year-old also sees the community he grew up in – Times Beach.
Before it became a 418.61-acre park, the land just east of Eureka started as a summer resort area on the Meramec River, then developed into a small town, and disappeared after a massive flood and the discovery of high levels of dioxin in 1983.
Thirty-five years after Times Beach was erased, Kapstick can still recall where his family’s home was, where neighbors’ homes were situated and can name most of the streets that are now walkways through the park.
“It was a great town,” said Kapstick, a former Eureka resident who recently moved to St. Louis. “I just can’t imagine any other place to grow up.”
And no one could have imagined that on Feb. 22, 1983, the federal Environmental Protection Agency would announce a Superfund buyout to remove the town’s residents.
“When you said to me 35 years, I’m thinking it can’t be 35 years,” said former Eureka Ward 2 Alderwoman Marilyn Leistner, who was the last mayor of Times Beach. “Some of it seems like it was last week.”
Town’s roots
Times Beach got its start through a newspaper promotion.
In 1926, the St. Louis Times sold a 20-foot-by-100-foot lot in Times Beach for $67.50, advertising the land as a place to get away from the city. The purchase included a six-month subscription to the paper. In order to build a home on the land, a second lot needed to be purchased.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The ‘blue water’ Navy veterans of the Vietnam War battle Agent Orange

Alfred Procopio Jr. left the Navy in 1967, decorated with medals for his service on the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier deployed off the coast of Vietnam. He also came home with health problems the U.S. government has linked to exposure to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange.
Procopio is one of an estimated 52,000 veterans nationwide who were stationed on ships during the Vietnam War but are not eligible for the same disability benefits as those who put boots on the ground or patrolled the country’s inland rivers.
His case, argued in December at a federal appeals court in Washington, could extend coverage for ailments associated with the infamous herbicide to a group of sailors known as the “blue water” Navy veterans.
Parallel efforts in Congress to broaden benefits have stalled in recent years.
This spring, the House unanimously approved a measure, but the Senate balked in December because of concerns about cost and demands for more scientific study.
“We do not have another year to wait. Some of our veterans will not last that long,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
The legislative and legal questions are intertwined: Did Congress intend to give these sailors the benefit of the doubt when it comes to showing their medical conditions are connected to toxic exposure?
At stake for Procopio, 73, and a leader of the veterans’ group, Mike Yates, is as much as $3,000 a month.
During the war, U.S. naval forces patrolled Vietnam’s 1,200-mile-long coastline, supplied Marines on land and provided long-range artillery support. Those stationed offshore like Procopio and Yates were referred to as the “blue water” Navy in contrast to the “brown water” sailors who operated on inland waterways.

Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans have suffered long enough

 Senator Enzi recently blocked legislation in the Senate concerning the Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans. His reasons: “It's going to cost too much” and “It will put too great of a work burden on the VA." These words keep going over and over again in my mind. I even hear them in my sleep. How can we as Americans elect anyone so callous, so unkind, so insensitive to a great need.
Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are dying daily of horrible diseases. It has been proven that their exposure was 10 times more than their fellow veterans who served on the ground in Vietnam. They have suffered long enough, their families have suffered long enough, their caretakers have suffered long enough. How many years will we have to fight this war? When will it finally be over?
Instead of saying it will cost too much, a great leader would have said I will find a way to get the money. Rather than worry about the VA's workload, a great leader would take action and help them figure out a way to handle it.
Senator Enzi will live with his shameful leadership in the Senate for many years to come.
DENNIS TURNBO, Morris Chapel, Tennessee

Veterans' request, if granted, could open doors for Guam residents to claim exposure benefits

A veterans' group request to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, if approved, could open the door for Guam residents to seek medical help for presumptive exposure to herbicides with toxic components, such as Agent Orange, during and after the Vietnam War.
Attorney John Wells, executive director of the Louisiana-based Military Veterans Advocacy, sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, requesting him to issue rules recognizing the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to veterans who served on Guam from Jan. 9, 1962 through Dec. 31, 1980.
The request also covers veterans who served on Johnston Island from Jan. 1, 1972 until Sept. 30, 1977.
"While many veterans who served on Guam felt that they were exposed to Agent Orange, we must not obsess with that term. The important thing is that they were exposed to herbicides with toxic components. That is sufficient to trigger coverage," Wells wrote in his Dec. 3 letter to Wilkie.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Secret Warfare - Herbicide use in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia

For nearly fifty years, thousands of gallons of ink have been used to write billions of words about the exposure of American troops to herbicides in Vietnam. Much also has been written about the subsequent birth defects in the children of those men and women. This article is by one veteran whose exposure to herbicides has had a severe impact on the health of his three sons.
Some legislative attempts have resulted in laws requiring the VA to treat, compensate, and otherwise help us—and, in a limited sense, to help children afflicted with one birth defect: spina bifida. And that, only after a nearly six-year effort to address a multitude of herbicide-caused birth defects in our children.
Paul Sutton
But virtually nothing has been done to help veterans exposed to those same herbicides outside of Vietnam, including in the South China Sea where thousands of Navy and Marine Corps personnel served and were exposed—just like those who had boots on the ground in Vietnam. 
Others were affected in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Okinawa, Guam, and a virtually unknown place—Johnston Atoll. This article focuses on Thailand, with special attention to Laos and Cambodia.
Legislative efforts are underway in the House and the Senate to very belatedly recognize the service of American veterans and their exposures in Thailand. In the Senate, S.2105 was introduced in November 2017, while H.R.4843 was introduced in the House the following January. Both bills contain identical wording and have been referred to the Veterans’ Affairs Committees in their respective chambers. No hearings or additional actions have been scheduled. As of August 7, S.2105 was co-sponsored by seventeen senators, and H.R.4843 had thirty-five co-sponsors.
We all know and pretty much understand what herbicides—commonly referred to as Agent Orange—are, and we know about their adverse health impacts on humans. Likewise, many are familiar with the defoliation program known as Operation Ranch Hand. So we’re not going to rehash those topics, but will focus on the refusal of our government to officially recognize and right a long-standing wrong perpetrated against veterans who served in Thailand supporting the war in Vietnam.
Vietnam and Thailand were combat zones. Both countries had similar Rules of Engagements. Although most of the Air Force bases in Thailand were staging areas for operations all over Vietnam, American military personnel in Thailand also were subjected to aggressive, repeated attacks from communist sympathizers. In its 1968 Contemporary Historical Examination of Current Operation (CHECO) Project Southeast Asia report, Attack on Udorn, the Air Force noted that Thailand was a “prime target of Communist expansion, and the intensified awareness of the Communists was exacerbated by the Air Force presence.” The Department of Defense had legitimate concerns about the threat to U.S. personnel and equipment in Thailand, which led to the use of herbicides inside base perimeters as a means of preventing enemy incursions. Throughout this article, we will refer to the sixty-odd CHECO reports we’ve discovered.

Veterans protest the gutting of West L.A. PTSD therapy groups

The secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert Wilkie, responded that the group therapy program was being “rebranded,” not ended. But he also questioned the effectiveness of group therapy for veterans with PTSD.
“Despite the popularity and long history of support groups as routine care for veterans with PTSD and trauma exposure, there is no strong evidence that this modality is an effective treatment,” Wilkie said in a letter to Lieu.
Dov Simens said he was “playing Rambo” in a homeless camp on Wilshire Boulevard 34 years ago when he stumbled on a therapy group for combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Through weekly sessions on the West Los Angeles veterans campus, Simens, 75, a member of the military’s secretive Phoenix interrogation and assassination program in Vietnam, was able to marry, have children and buy a house in Sherman Oaks, he said.
Buoyed by his success, he took a break. But anger and depression drove him back to the “group of my peers.”
 “I have PTSD and I know that there is no cure,” Simens said. “There is no pill or opioid that will make what I did disappear.”
Now he and other veterans say the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has soured on long-term therapy and started dismantling the West L.A. PTSD program, which has helped thousands of former service members heal the invisible wounds of war.
Before August, about 20 groups, each with five to 30 members, had been meeting on the medical campus for a total of 40 hours a week of therapy, said Leslie Martin, the former PTSD therapy program director. The combat veterans group shut down this fall after refusing the VA’s order to move to cramped quarters with no privacy, she added.
Two other groups have stopped meeting or relocated since summer; others merged and participation is dropping, Martin said. Martin filed a whistleblower complaint over the service reductions before retiring last month. The complaint accused the VA of reassigning her to work as a clerk as retaliation for her support of veterans protesting the changes.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Gaming the system

The Opinion page in the Christmas edition was an interesting read. First, the “Montana View” claims that “Enzi, Lee let veterans down”. This regards Agent Orange exposure by veterans who served in the Navy offshore in Vietnam, and the supposed medical issues they now suffer from that exposure. I can understand that, IF they handled Agent Orange, and IF their maladies can be traced to that handling. All others serving in the fleet during that time period not handling Agent Orange in a manner that exposed them to its toxicity are just gaming the system, in my view, and should not be entitled to medical benefits.
I was surprised to learn years later that not all service members of that time period were eligible for medical benefits. I guess it was only for those who served in hazardous situations, thus drawing hazardous duty pay, who were eligible for VA benefits. I never thought about it at the time but appreciate those benefits now. So I think Enzi and Lee are right, and have stepped forward to NOT let our country down by NOT letting some veterans game the system.

As Veterans Develop Cancer, Senate Refuses To Extend Agent Orange Settlement To Navy Vets

Recently, the United States senate had the opportunity in the form of legislation to extend benefits to us navy veterans who served in Vietnam and developed cancers and other diseases as a result of exposure to Agent Orange, the U.S. Senate was 
Mike Lee (R-UT)
poised to pass this bill. They said, well, yeah, these people served in Vietnam. They were exposed to this. They’re now developing debilitating diseases. Tens of thousands have already died from it, so why wouldn’t we extend these benefits to members of the navy when we’re giving it to the army and the marines and everybody else? The navy deserves it just as much. They had just as much exposure and then Republicans in the Senate said, I don’t want to do it, and that’s what happened. That’s where the bill died. Republicans didn’t want to give these us navy veterans suffering from cancers because of their exposure to Agent Orange that the United States military dropped.
They didn’t want to cover their healthcare after they were the ones who gave them
Mike Enzi (R-MT)
cancer. That’s what happened. In case you’re not familiar with Agent Orange, let me go ahead and run through this massive list, and this is actually only a partial list of some of the diseases and cancers that Agent Orange has been known to cause a soft tissue sarcoma, non Hodgkin Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, respiratory cancers including lung, bronchus, trachea and larynx, prostate cancer, multiple Myeloma, bladder cancer, um, and overall Vietnam veterans as a whole have increased rates of cancer, nerve, digestive skin, respiratory disorders. The CDC says that in particular there’s higher rates of acute chronic leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non Hodgkin’s lymphoma, throat cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, ischemic heart disease, soft tissue sarcoma and liver cancer, all from this chemical that was primarily made by us chemical companies, Dow Chemical and Monsanto.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Enzi abandoned ship when Navy veterans needed him most

A bill to provide long-overdue healthcare and disability compensation to U.S. Navy veterans exposed to Agent Orange deserved unanimous congressional passage — and it almost had it.
But one U.S. senator, Wyoming’s Mike Enzi, recently stood up and said no, scuttling the a two-year bipartisan effort.
Listen to Enzi turn his back on veterans
Earning his stripes as Senatorial “Grinch of the Year,” he explained his opposition in terms that might make you think he was doing sick veterans a favor.
“We owe our veterans, who have sacrificed for their country, our careful consideration of legislation that would affect them so much,” Enzi said in a press release. “The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act is no exception. Yet the Veterans Administration continues to have serious concerns. This could impact veterans across the board. We need to carefully increase benefits.
Right, senator. That’s why you single-handedly blocked a bipartisan bill that would help up to 90,000 Blue Water Navy veterans receive the care they deserve after it passed the House 382-0.
What on earth would you have done if you didn’t respect them so much?
It takes real intestinal fortitude to sign off on a statement that’s so divorced from the reality of one’s actions. Perhaps being able to stomach such spin is a symptom of having been in Washington too long. Or maybe it’s a side effect of prolonged exposure to the Trump administration. In Enzi’s case, I diagnose both.
Whatever the cause, his words and actions are an embarrassment to Wyoming and a disservice to our fighting men and women.
Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, claimed he acted out of fiscal responsibility. That would be easier to swallow if he hadn’t wholeheartedly backed a huge tax cut for corporations and the country’s richest individuals that is estimated to add at least $1.5 trillion to the national deficit over the next decade.
No, Enzi had to play deficit hawk with the lives of veterans hanging in the balance. Shame on him.

Gazette opinion: Wyoming's Enzi fails U.S. Navy Vietnam vets

Forty-three years after the Vietnam War ended, tens of thousands of U.S. veterans are still fighting for benefits they earned in that conflict.
Their victory over bureaucracy was in sight in June when 382 U.S. House members agreed on a voice vote to pass H.R.299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017. David Shulkin, then secretary for Veterans Affairs, was not opposed to the bill.
But as soon as Shulkin was out, VA leadership under newly appointed Secretary Robert Wilkie came out strong against this legislation that would restore benefit eligibility to U.S. Navy Veterans who served on ships in the waters off Vietnam.
Unanimous House
In 1991, a law made all Vietnam veterans eligible for benefits to cover specific ailments related to exposure to Agent Orange. The U.S. military doused Vietnam with 20 million gallons of this toxic defoliant during the war. But in in 2002, the VA issued a rule saying that veterans had to have served on land to be eligible for Agent Orange coverage.
That rule left Navy veterans without the health and disability coverage for conditions such as Parkinson’s, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and diabetes.
Finally in 2017, 330 members of the U.S. House — 175 Democrats and 155 Republicans — sponsored legislation specifying that when Congress said “all veterans” it meant U.S. Navy veterans, too. Reps. Greg Gianforte of Montana and Liz Cheney of Wyoming didn’t sponsor H.R.299, but they voted for it.

Monday, December 24, 2018

From all of us, to all of you

Happy Holidays

VVA Lambasts the Two Senators and the VA for Killing the “Blue Water Navy” Bill

VVA Lambasts the Two Senators and the VA
for Killing the “Blue Water Navy” Bill

(Washington, D.C.) -- “Despite the science and despite the support from both Republicans and Democrats in both houses of Congress, obstruction by two Senators, Mike Enzi  (R-WY), and Mike Lee (R-UT), the Senate was prevented from voting on H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America. “This bill, which would provide a measure of justice to several thousand sailors and Marines who served aboard ships in the waters off the former South Vietnam, had been passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 382-0 and would assuredly have passed in the Senate. 

On Monday, December 10, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) brought up the Blue Water Navy bill on the floor of the Senate. When she asked for unanimous consent, it was the senior senator from Wyoming, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who objected, citing cost concerns and saying that it would cause “budgetary and operational pressures that would happen at the VA.

“Contrary to the VA’s assertions, in both testimony before Congress and in a letter rife with inaccuracies, confused speculation, and outright lies, from VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to Senator Johnny Isakson, the Georgia Republican who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs,” said Rowan, “we have the science that shows the pathways of exposure to Agent Orange. The VA’s objections reversed a commitment by Wilkie’s predecessor, Dr. David Shulkin, to ‘do the right thing.’

“It was déjà vu all over again, reminiscent of the VA’s actions in February 2002, when it abruptly terminated benefits to Navy, Coast Guard, and FMF Marine veterans, thereby limiting the scope of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 to only those veterans who could provide proof of ‘boots on the ground.’ The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act would right this wrong, and partially restore coverage to those aggrieved veterans who suffer from illnesses considered presumptive to exposure to Agent Orange and other toxic herbicides.

“So, VVA and our colleagues in the other veterans and military service organization will begin this fight for justice all over again when the 116th Congress is seated.  And we will do so with renewed vigor,” Rowan added.  

Mokie Pratt Porter
Director of Communications

Vietnam Veterans of America
8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100
Silver Spring, Maryland 20912
301-585-4000 x146

Yates: Senators Enzi and Lee should be ashamed

There is a bill in the Senate that passed the House by a vote of 382-0. They tried to vote on it in the Senate and by all indications Senator Mike Enzi is one of two senators that are objecting to the Bills.

HR 299 will help Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans received much needed VA benefits. From 1991 until 2002, these veterans did receive VA benefits, but by a stroke of a pen the VA decided to removed these veterans from receive the VA benefits.
What HR 299 does is provide benefit to about 90,000 Blue Water Vietnam veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange. It has been proven that Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans were exposed up to 10 times the amount as those veterans that had “boots On The ground.”
We are not asking that anything is removed from other veterans, they deserve the benefits. We are asking that we be treated the same way our veteran brothers who served “Boot on the Ground” were.
Senator Mike Lee has placed a hold on the bill because of the lies the VA are telling him. They tell him that up to 400,000 veterans would be affected. The actual number is between 60,000 and 90,000. The VA has inflated the cost and convinced the Congress Budget Office to increase the amount of the bill way too high. During a Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, they stated that adding new veterans would cause them more work.
I think Senator Lee should be ashamed of what he is doing to the Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans. He stated that the VA is doing ANOTHER study. In Public Law 102-4, Agent Orange Act of 1991, the law required that the VA do the research and studies. They were required to test veterans; they never did. If

Mike Yates, National Commander
Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association

Roe ends chairmanship with goals accomplished, save for one: More benefits for Blue Water vets

WASHINGTON – The once-bedecked office of Phil Roe, a Republican congressman from Tennessee, was empty Thursday morning except for a couch, a few chairs and some portraits leaning against one wall.
It’s the space reserved for the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – an office and a title that he’ll be relinquishing in the new year when the House majority flips to the Democratic party.
Roe led the committee for two years, during which time he successfully garnered bipartisan support to follow through on numerous, weighty goals.
However, it appeared likely Friday that he would fall short on one: securing benefits for thousands of veterans who served on ships off the coast during the Vietnam War. Known as “Blue Water” Navy veterans, they’ve been fighting for years to prove they were exposed to Agent Orange.
The ongoing effort appeared ill-fated Friday, but not for lack of trying on Roe’s part. He shepherded legislation through the House, where it passed on a vote of 382-0. It marked the first time in a seven-year fight that the bill had made it out of one chamber.
The vote occurred in June, with Roe thinking there would be enough time for the Senate, notoriously slower, to approve it.
Six months later, with days before the end of the congressional session, the Senate made two last-ditch attempts to pass it. They failed twice.

Agent Orange film to be screened in America

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - The documentary Inside This Peace featuring a forgotten victim of Agent Orange living in Vietnam will be available on Vimeo On Demand across America this Christmas.
The documentary by America-based producer and director Linh Nga tells the story of Thoa, a forgotten victim of Agent Orange in Vietnam, whose younger brother is also an AO victim. Thoa has “scary skin with huge black patches, numerous lumps and hair all over her body”. The lumps are filled with fluid and can’t be drained.
For decades, Thoa’s parents have been looking for Government help.
“Peace is defined as ‘freedom from the cessation of war and violence’ and peace in our documentary is just like their daily life after the war and the legacy of war that we have to face now,"  Linh Nga said on a talkshow.
Linh Nga first met Thoa when she was 13 years old when they sat next to each other on a plane on the way to a charity performance in the central city of Da Nang.
The hairs on Thoa’s fingers were very prickly. When she moved her arm next to Linh Nga’s, it was almost painful, but not the same pain she felt for her.
"That’s one of the reasons I wanted to make a documentary about her and do something for Thoa and people like her," Linh Nga said.

Republicans squash bill to pay for Vietnam vets' health care citing deficit woes

In June, the House voted 382-0 to pass the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which would extend veterans’ benefits to the numerous men who served off the coast of Vietnam during the war. Many of these men have had to spend a considerable part of their lives trying to prove that they were exposed to Agent Orange, leading to some, if not most, of their health problems. Since June, the act has been stuck in the Republican-led Senate. Last Monday, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) attempted to get the unanimous consent of the Senate to pass the bill.

If the Senate can get unanimous consent on a bill, it can move through approval considerably quicker, and this bill is a seeming no-brainer for Democrats and Republicans. There are no “poison pills” attached to the act, no secret money for food assistance (giving to people who need it money for food is something that can really scare off Republican legislators). The only drawback to asking for a unanimous approval on the Senate floor is that the moment a single senator opposes the bill, the entire unanimous consent enterprise is scuttled. Of course, who would object to extending healthcare benefits to Vietnam veterans? Like, for real? Who? According to the Stars and Stripes, that would be Senator Mike Enzi (WY-R), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Redefining the term, "***hole" - Why Sen. Enzi's delay of Blue Water Navy bill is bull$#%!

Y'want to know why politicians have such a low approval rating?
Here’s one giant, flaming, dumpster-fire of an example:
Monday, December 10, 2018, the Senate couldn’t even agree to advance a bill (H.R 299) which helps Vietnam Veterans suffering from the effects of exposure to Agent Orange.  Specifically, because Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi chose to put a hold on the bill.
Yup, they couldn’t handle paying to help Vietnam veterans who served aboard ships downwind from a dioxin herbicide known to cause multiple forms of cancer, among other health issues.
But I don’t want to put words in Senator’s Enzi’s mouth.  Thanks to C-Span, here’s exactly how he justified screwing over some 90,000 so-called Blue Water Navy veterans — many of whom reside in his state.
“On this bill, many of us have been made aware of the potential cost growth from the potential and the budgetary and operational pressures that would happen at the VA, (they’re having a lot of problems anyway).  But the VA’s analysis shows the cost could be nearly 5 times what Congress assumed it was when the House passed it.”
So it’s like that Senator?
You volunteer to serve your country, but if you get wounded you can only get medical treatment if the cost is low?
Phil Briggs is a Navy veteran. During the mid-1990s, he served as a military photojournalist on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

VVA Condemns Obstruction of “Blue Water Navy” Bill by Sen. Enzi

IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                            December 11, 2018 No. 18-25
Mokie Porter

VVA Condemns Obstruction of “Blue Water Navy” Bill by Sen. Enzi

(Washington, D.C.) -- “It is beyond disappointing that a single senator, Mike Enzi (R-WY), has obstructed H.R. 299, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, a bill that was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 382-0 and would assuredly pass in the Senate if the members of that body were given the opportunity to vote on it,” said John Rowan, VVA National President.

On Monday, December 10, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) brought up the Blue Water Navy bill on the floor of the Senate. When she asked for unanimous consent, it was the senior senator from Wyoming, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who objected, citing cost concerns and saying that it would cause “budgetary and operational pressures that would happen at the VA.”

Earlier this year, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie voiced opposition to the legislation, reversing an earlier commitment by his predecessor, Dr. David Shulkin, to “do the right thing.”

“Congress is only too glad to throw money, and lots of it, at the Department of Defense for questionable programs, citing the need for a strong defense,” said Rowan. “The Senate is being prevented from ‘doing the right thing’ for a relative handful of veterans who served with honor in the waters off the coast of Vietnam and are now hurting from effects of exposure to Agent Orange.”

“Contrary to the VA’s assertions, we have the science that shows the pathways of exposure to this insidious herbicide. So we endorse the sentiments of two legislators, a Republican senator and a Democratic congressman, who make the case for passing this long-needed legislation.”

“This is an issue of justice,” said Senator Steve Daines (R-MT). “This is an issue of bureaucracy, frankly, not doing the intent of what Congress was, when it was originally passed. And this would clarify that so that we can make sure these vets get the benefits they deserve.”

“All too often,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), “members of this Congress are willing to pay lip service to the sacrifices our military and military veterans make, then fall into the trap of playing politics when there’s a chance to actually do something to help them.”


U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - Agent Orange Newsletter


Dr. Loren Erickson , MD, MPH, DrPH
As both a Veteran and the son of a Vietnam Veteran, and as the Director and Chief Consultant for VA’s Post Deployment Health Services (PDHS), I welcome you to the 2018 issue of the Agent Orange Newsletter. This newsletter includes information for Veterans and their families who may be concerned about herbicide exposure. I appreciate the contributions of Veterans, and I hope this issue of the newsletter provides you with helpful information.
This issue provides information on the conditions that VA presumes are caused by Agent Orange exposure and how to obtain benefits for health conditions. You can also read about the health care and benefits available to those who have lived or worked at Camp Lejeune and about liver fluke infection from eating undercooked or raw fish during military service in Southeast Asia. In addition, this issue profiles Veterans who have served in Vietnam and their reflections on VA services, including the Agent Orange Registry.
PDHS is a VA-delivered Foundational Service, meaning its work is fundamental to VA’s mission and is rarely found outside of VA. Along with the information provided in this newsletter, you can learn more from PDHS about diseases, benefits, and other resources related to Agent Orange at:

Monday, December 10, 2018

Torpedoing the Navy Veterans Agent Orange Bill

Is The Seven-Year Effort To Care For Blue Water Navy Veterans Exposed To Agent Orange Being Torpedoed By Senate Republicans And President Trump?
Where We Were December 3, 2018:
H.R 299, The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act Of 2018, was passed by the U.S. House unanimously, 382 to 0, and went to the Senate on June 25. but a week ago, in an article from Tom Philpott in Stars and Stripes, we learned that as many as four Senators had placed a hold on the bill that President Trump has already agreed to sign, and that the bill was in jeopardy of failure, after seven years of legislative work by the non-profit, Military Veterans Advocacy, Inc. (MVA). Senators Paul Rand (R-Ky), Mike Lee (R-Ut), Mike Enzi (R-Wy) And Bill Cassidy (R-La) either had concerns about the veracity of the science or costs associated with the bill after years of research, gathering of eye-witness affidavits, capitol hill political wrangling, and several years of attempted passage of the bill, not to mention an estimated 20,000 deaths of the approximately 90,000 U.S. Navy Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

Navy Vietnam veterans feeling betrayed march on VA

WASHINGTON (WFLA) - Navy Vietnam Veterans marched from a Washington, D.C. federal courthouse to the steps of VA headquarters with a message: They were poisoned at sea.
New Port Richey veteran Mike Kvintus was among them.
"All of us veterans have taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and with that oath, we expect the country to take care of us," the Navy veteran said.
Instead, with a stroke of a pen, the VA abandoned 90,000 Navy Vietnam veterans who did not step foot on Vietnam soil.
The VA contends unlike troops that served on the ground, these Blue Water Navy veterans were not exposed to Agent Orange.
"It's a national disgrace as far as I'm concerned," Mike added.
The military sprayed 20 million gallons of the toxic herbicide Agent Orange on Vietnam.
It ran into rivers and streams. It contaminated harbors and bays.
Ships like the American Victory, which served in Vietnam, turned contaminated sea water into fresh water. The distillation process only enhanced the chemicals, unknowingly poisoning crew members.
"We took water and distilled it, and actually bathed in it, ate food cooked in it and drank it," Mike explained.
Mike served on the U.S.S. Buchanan, a destroyer that according to deck logs, anchored in Da Nang Harbor when the military sprayed Agent Orange.
"The plume covered that whole harbor," Mike recalled.
The herbicide is known to cause at least 14 illnesses, including some cancers.
Mike suffers from three of the conditions.
"No one else in my family has any of these issues," Mike said.
A bill providing health care coverage and disability benefits for the Blue Water Navy veterans sailed through the U.S. House of Representatives, passing unanimously.
Republican Mike Lee of Utah holds it hostage in the Senate.

Price of Service: Health care program available for vets who served at Camp Lejeune

With a name like Marine, it sounds like a foregone conclusion what Richard Marine would be, but it wasn't easy. He was sitting in his seat on the bus going to boot camp at Parris Island when the drill instructor came on the bus.
“He was going through the checklist of names, “Richard recalled. “And he stopped and said, ‘I don’t believe this. You know who you are, stand up.’ And I assumed he was speaking to me because of my last name, which was correct. From that point forward, I had a certain level of special attention in order to earn the title Marine.”
After graduating boot camp at Parris Island in the summer of 1969, it was on to 10 weeks of infantry training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
“Everything I learned in the Marine Corps I was able to apply in life. I said life was wonderful and that's really the truth because we raised our kids, established our roots in the community, and got involved with a lot of things that were fun and fulfilling, and here we are. Despite what I consider to be myriad benefits, there was a significant price.”
In 2008 came the news that changed his life: he was diagnosed with cancer.
“People don't realize when they get struck down by cancer they don't immediately jump back to their time in service,” Richard said. "You don't even know how to make the connections.”

Thursday, December 6, 2018

December 7, 1941

Agent Orange: Actions Needed to Improve Accuracy and Communication of Information on Testing and Storage Locations, Report to Congressional Addressees

Homeland Security Digital Library

"The House report accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 included a provision that GAO [Government Accountability Office] review the government's handling of Agent Orange on Guam. This report examines (1) information the federal government has about the procurement, distribution, use, and disposition of Agent Orange; (2) DOD and VA [Veterans Affairs] efforts to make information about where Agent Orange and its components were tested and stored available; and (3) challenges associated with Agent Orange testing. GAO reviewed agency policies, documents, and available archival records that GAO identified; interviewed DOD, VA, and other agency officials; and met with a non-generalizable sample of 38 veterans and a veterans service organization."

Report Number:               GAO-18-24
Publisher:            United States. Government Accountability Office
Date:     2018-11
Copyright:           Public Domain
Retrieved From:               Government Accountability Office:
Format: pdf
Media Type:       application/pdf

Monday, December 3, 2018

Nature: 50 years after the US army sprayed Agent Orange over Vietnam, the wildlife is fighting back

Dawn. Smokin’ jungle either side of the Ho Chi Minh Highway: deep thick forest like giant broccoli, standing proud and high on slopes of dizzying steepness. A sweet coolness in the air that won’t last. And then the singing began: a joyous lamentation that filled the air above the trees, ringing out from one valley to the next.
Southern white-cheeked gibbons. Classified as endangered. They sound like the Clangers with more feeling: long, heartbreaking, ululating phrases that form the national anthem of the family that does the singing. It’s about family, territory, life, and the future. This is our home. Let’s keep it that way. It was a sentiment I encountered again and again in Vietnam.

H.R. 299 CBO Cost Estimate

On May 15, 2018, the Congressional Budget Office transmitted an estimate of the budgetary effects of H.R. 299, a bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes, as ordered reported by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on May 8, 2018. Among other things, the act would provide disability compensation to more of the veterans who served in the territorial seas of Vietnam during the Vietnam War under the assumption that they had been exposed to Agent Orange, a blend of herbicides used by the Department of Defense to remove dense tropical foliage. CBO estimated that those provisions would increase direct spending by about $900 million over the 2019-2028 period.
The bill that was passed by the House amended the earlier version to expand the nautical area in which veterans would be presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. That change would increase CBO’s estimate of the costs of the legislation by about $250 million to account for the additional veterans that would be affected.