Friday, February 22, 2019

Military Veterans Advocacy: Agent Orange effects go beyond Vietnam

While a battle rages over whether the VA should provide benefits to Blue Water Navy vets who served off the coast of Vietnam and were effected by Agent Orange, another fight over the effects of the chemical exfoliant is centered on the U.S. territory of
Guam. The exposure to service members stationed on the tiny Pacific island, which is home to large Navy and Air Force installations, is a growing concern to some veterans groups.
While Guam isn't the first place the public thinks of in regards to Agent Orange exposure, the chemical was used on the island, and stored there, for many years. Recent efforts by Congress to address the issue have failed, including a 2017 effort led by Florida Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL). But according to retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness, Chief of Staff for Military Veterans Advocacy (MVA),  recent tests have shown the dioxin contamination levels found on the island are significant and can't be pushed aside.
MVA says, much like the Blue Water Navy issue, the VA is pushing back on providing benefits to those who were affected, but Maness says the advocacy group is pushing for new legislation that will take aim at the problem of toxic exposure on Guam. It's a personal matter to the retired Colonel, who spent six months at Guam's Andersen Air Force Base in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and believes his unit may have been effected by the high dioxin levels.

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