(Washington, DC) –“For over a decade, Vietnam Veterans of America has sought legislation to restore presumptive Agent Orange exposure status to members of the Armed Forces who served in the territorial waters of Vietnam,” said John Rowan, VVA National President. “We applaud Congressman David Valadao (CA-21) and the original cosponsors of H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, and we will work with them to pass this much-needed bill.
“We could not agree more with Congressman Dennis Ross (FL-15), that ‘there is absolutely no reason those veterans who served in the waters off the coast of Vietnam and currently suffer fromdiseases related to Agent Orange exposure should not qualify for current VA care,’ ” Rowan said.
“Presumption of service connection exists for Vietnam veterans who served in country, on land and inland waterways. Enactment of H.R. 299 will bring a modicum of justice to several thousand Navy personnel who have been denied service connection by the VA since 2002. They no longer will have to prove direct exposure to Agent Orange, and they will receive expedited consideration for VA benefits if they are afflicted with any of the health conditions associated with exposure to this defoliant,” Rowan said.
“VVA fully endorses the sentiments expressed by Congressman Tim Walz (MN-1): ‘When Congress allowed the Agent Orange Act of 1991 to expire, the need for this legislation becameabsolutely critical. Our nation must exhaust every effort to identify, prevent, and heal the injuries, illnesses, and wounds our military service personnel received during their service.’ “