First off, I want to make everyone aware of a bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) on 13 February 2015. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act aims to include Veterans of naval and coast guard ships that did not enter inland water areas of Vietnam. These ships, usually a destroyer class ship or larger, may have had contact with the dioxins now known as Agent Orange. A 2002 study for the Royal Australian Navy (see citation 19 for the full study) brings to light the fact that when you desalinate water contaminated with Agent Orange, it actually concentrates the dioxins. So, when you take into account that almost all of these ships desalinated water for use to power their engines and as fresh water for the crew (cooking, bathing, drinking, etc.) you have a lot of "Blue Water Navy" Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. The kick-in-the-pants is, these Veterans are not recognized by the VA as having any contact with Agent Orange because they didn't step foot onto land in Vietnam. (more on this below)
For the past three Congressional sessions (that would be 6 years by my count), nothing has been done. The above link for the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act is actually the text and summary from last Congress's Blue Water Veterans Act, which died in subcommittee in the House. (The link is there because it is the same text to the current HR 969 but the summary for HR 969 hasn't been put up on the Congressional server as of the original date of publication for this blog). Now, you have to ask why the bill didn't go anywhere. It had over 218 co sponsors in the house. That's a helluva lot of politicians all agreeing on something. The problem is, there was no "score" from the Congressional Budget Office. That "score" is basically the price that will have to be paid to make the bill into a law. Remember, it was the "price" of the Clay Hunt SAV Act that made Sen. Coburn block its passing the Senate last year. The fear has always been that the "score" from the CBO would be too high and the question would be "Where are we gonna get this money from?"
John Paul Rossie is the Executive Director of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association. He said "It looks like things are much more in our favor," regarding a CBO score during this Congressional period. Part of the reason for a lower score is the fact that a report on the Da Nang Harbor may be accepted by the VA, eliminating a lot of the Blue Water Veterans from the cost of the Blue Water Vietnam Veterans Act. This would mean the cost of the bill would go down significantly. Hopefully, it will be passed. In that regard, I would like to ask all of my readers to contact your representative in the House and let them know you would like them to co sponsor HR 969 The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. A partner bill may soon be introduced in the Senate. I will let you know of any news of that as soon as I have the information.
Before I close on this subject, any Veteran that served on a ship during the Vietnam War, in the waters that are being discussed here, please consider the diseases caused by Agent Orange for Veterans and their offspring. In my opinion, the legal issues surrounding Agent Orange are murky enough that all of the water involved is all brown water. Different cancers and other diseases all could have been caused by Agent Orange. I am not even sure if Agent Orange really worked in its mission of defoliating the triple canopy jungles of Vietnam, but it did a hell of a job on our Vietnam Veterans.
It seems that VA Secretary Robert McDonald and (former?) NBC news anchor Brian Williams need to start a new 12 step group. They could call it Misremembering Anonymous. I am, of course, referring to McDonald's claims of being in a Special Forces unit. To be clear, McDonald did graduate Ranger School, so he was "tabbed", but he never served a single minute in a Ranger Battalion. He was with a CBS news crew! More importantly, he was helping with a homeless count in Los Angeles, where Veteran homelessness is a big problem. The lasting impression from this little "misremembering" should stay with the Veteran homeless population across the United States. Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veteran Affairs Committee, has said he is "disappointed" in McDonald's statements. Rep. Mike Coffman, who McDonald infamously asked "What have you done" during VA budget hearings, has said Sec. McDonald has a job to do, mainly clean up the VA. Coffman has said he hopes the media doesn't fixate on McDonald's misrememberings, but instead remains focused on cleaning up the VA. Senator Johnny Isakson, chairman of the SenateVeteran Affairs Committee hassaid, "Secretary McDonald made a mistake of the heart, not the head. He has apologized for it, and I accept his apology."
If he doesn't, then we have to make sure they are honest and correct in their statements. Don't tell me you've fired "hundreds" of VA employees when in reality its less than a dozen. Don't tell me you were a special forces operator! Just get rid of the problem culture in the VA and make sure the goal of the VA, to treat our Veterans with the care and dignity they deserve, is met! McDonald was made secretary to end the VA scandal and to make it work. So far, not much has been done. With the signing into law of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, hopefully some real progress will be realized. The VA needs to work. Anyone that thinks ISIS will be defeated without an American casualty is vastly delusional. We will fight wars in the future. We will have Veterans that need care. We, the people, will make sure the government
That is all.
Thanks to Fox News and the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association of facts used during this blog.
Read these blogs! I do and I think you'll enjoy them too.
A Vet with PTSD's blog
Old Marine's blog
American Duckie's blog
Boston Red Thoughts blogOK the last one might only interest you if you like baseball and the Boston Red Sox, but its a great blog!
REMEMBER today is TELEPHONE A VETERAN TUESDAYCall a Veteran that you know. Talk to them. Maybe have a coffee together. It could make a big difference.