Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Tester’s Landmark Bill to Provide Benefits to Vets Exposed to Agent Orange Passes Senate

After urging support for his amendment on the Senate floor, Senator successfully passes legislation as part of the must-pass annual defense bill
Republicans Braun, Cruz, Kennedy, Lee, Paul, Scott of Florida voted no
(U.S. Senate) – Vietnam veterans suffering from diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange are one step closer to receiving critical care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) following sustained efforts from U.S. Senator Jon Tester to include his bipartisan legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – a must-pass annual defense bill.
Tester took to the Senate floor earlier today to urge his colleagues to support his amendment which would expand VA’s list of medical conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange to include Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism—health conditions that each meet the historical standard for being added to the presumptive list for service-connection as it relates to Agent Orange exposure.
“This is a historic win for thousands of Vietnam veterans who have been suffering from illnesses after being exposed to Agent Orange, but who have been unjustly denied benefits for decades,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “With the inclusion of my amendment in this must-pass defense bill, we are now one step closer to providing our Vietnam War heroes with the treatment and benefits they deserve from VA. But our fight is far from over—taking care of our veterans is a continuing cost of war, and we’ve got to keep extending the list of presumptive conditions to support an entire population of veterans living with other debilitating illnesses as a result of their service.”
Currently, thousands of Vietnam veterans living with chronic health conditions developed as a result of their service are being denied critical benefits and health care from VA. These veterans have been subject to additional and unwarranted delays as a result of the Trump Administration’s repeated calls for further evaluation of scientific research—even though such research has already been reviewed by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), which has established the standard for scientific evidence of association for more than twenty years. Tester’s amendment would require VA to provide a presumption of service-connection for Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism—expanding care and benefits for veterans suffering from these three conditions.
For years, Tester has fought tirelessly to push the Trump Administration to provide Vietnam veterans the treatment and benefits they earned. In 2017, he led the charge in urging VA to expand its list of medical conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange. In 2018, he repeated the call and urged the Office of Management and Budget to assist the VA in this effort. Earlier this year, Tester led 42 Senators in blasting the Administration for stonewalling critical benefits for more than 190,000 Vietnam veterans suffering from health conditions connected with their service. He also held a roundtable discussion with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kans.), stakeholders, and veterans’ advocates to address longstanding issues associated with the effects of toxic exposures on our nation’s servicemembers and veterans.

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