The 113th Congress is seated. The 112th Congress failed to recognize veterans of the Vietnam War. House Bill 3612 and Senate Bill 1629, to restore the Agent Orange Equity Act, did not make it out of committee. In all probability, these bills are dead and must be reintroduced.
There are 439 members of the House and 100 members of Senate. In the 112th Congress, only 126 representatives co-sponsored the House bill and 14 senators co-sponsored the Senate bill.
What does this say about those lawmakers who ignored the bills?
Veterans of the Vietnam War are low priority. We have become a liability for budget dollars. Our quality of life means little to our Congress. What is a veteran's life worth, those who honorably served country and flag? Freedom is not free.
Every day another veteran falls ill to a disease attributed to the deadly herbicide Agent Orange. Every week 400 to 500 sick Vietnam veterans die. The legacy we leave behind is that our government does not care.
We advocates for Vietnam veterans must start again to convince our legislators to do what is right. We are groups that volunteer our time to help sick veterans gather evidence required by Veterans Affairs for submission of claims. We do the leg work and meet with members of Congress in support of veterans. Our only reward is knowing we helped a veteran. What we do is not enough unless we have support from Congress.
We ask all Americans to urge our lawmakers to pass laws that will provide equitable VA health care and compensation for sick Vietnam veterans so they may realize a better quality of life.
John J. Bury
The writer is retired from the U.S. Navy and is a Vietnam War veteran.