The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013, introduced in February, is stuck in a committee in the U.S. Congress.
If passed, the bill would make those is the Navy and Marines who served at sea eligible for VA benefits, including compensation.
What is wrong with Congress when it comes to our veterans? To date, only 148 members of Congress have cosponsored this bill.
Of the 12 noncancerous and 38 cancerous diseases tied to Agent Orange exposure, only one — non-Hodgkin's lymphoma — is recognized by the VA for Blue Water veterans. The Agent Orange Act of 1991 afforded VA compensation to 534,000 Navy and Marine veterans, but in 2002, the VA stopped awarding benefits to this group.
The revised rules state a Navy or Marine veteran must prove “boots on ground” in Vietnam or evidence of actual exposure to Agent Orange for eligibility. But those offshore came into contact with the herbicide in their drinking water and from mists that drifted out to sea. Both have been linked to life-threatening health effects.
There are approximately 170,000 of these veterans still alive.
These veterans need help; many suffer today without hope. The voice of the American people can help. Call, write and e-mail your members of Congress and urge them to cosponsor and pass this bill.
John J. Bury
The writer, a Vietnam veteran, is retired from the U.S. Navy.
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