The following was provided by Dennis Franklin DK3 65-66. Thanks, Dennis, for passing this along. I think we should all contact our Senators and urge their support for this.
Agent Orange Reform in MilCon/VA Appropriations Bill (copied from the VNVets email)
The House approved an amendment to its version of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA) appropriations bill (H.R. 4974) that would extend presumptive service connection for conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure to Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) currently presumes any service member who had boots on the ground or served on Vietnam's inland waterways was exposed to Agent Orange. If these veterans experience health problems related to that exposure, they are eligible for VA disability benefits. The policy, however, denies this presumption to veterans who served off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam, even though many of these so-called "Blue Water Navy" veterans are experiencing the same exposure-related health problems as those who served inland.
The passage of this amendment, sponsored by Rep. Chris Gibson (NY), is a major step forward for Blue Water Navy veterans, who should be eligible for presumptive exposure to Agent Orange. The Senate passed its version of the MilCon/VA spending bill, without this provision. There will be a conference committee appointed to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills. Members and others are strongly urged to use the FRA Action Center at action.fra.org/action-center/ to ask their senators to support this House provision in the final version of the bill, which will be voted on by both chambers and, if approved, sent to the President to be signed into law or vetoed.