We’ve all heard of Agent Orange. The infamous defoliant used in Vietnam to kill the jungle canopy was found in the 1980s to cause cancer in humans. But Agent Orange (AO) had a much greater reach than Vietnam, and has impacted hundreds of thousands of lives. We spoke with James Kuiken about this very topic, and you can listen to that podcast here.
So you’d think the VA and DoD would accept responsibility and help those servicemembers, right? No.
Earlier this year, Navy veteran Lonnie Kilpatrick lost his fight with cancer, most likely caused from exposure to AO while on Guam. The VA had misdiagnosed him, and you can read about that here. But while Lonnie had some type of healthcare, tens of thousands of veterans who were also exposed to AO on Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or even sailors stationed offshore of Vietnam don’t have a valid claim with the VA.
House Resolution 299, the Blue Water Navy Bill, aims to correct a small part of this entire tragedy. It’s a simple bill, one that states if a servicemember was offshore of Vietnam during the Vietnam War era, they are presumed to have been exposed to AO. Simple, right?
No. The new VA secretary doesn’t like it. And there has been quite a pushback from Veteran Service Organizations on the VA because of that.
As for the legislation, HR 299 is now Senate Bill 422 (S.422) and has been sent to committee. This is the farthest that this bill has ever gone before, and it’s entirely possible to get a vote during this session. But it will take your effort to push it through.
Contact your two Senators and ask them to vote on Senate Bill 422, The Blue Water Navy Bill. It passed the House unanimously in June, and can be an easy vote. Please help these veterans that need it.