We want to thank the Blue Water Navy Awareness group for sharing with us two critical pieces of legislation that were recently introduced in Congress. The pair of bills relate to Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans and their ability to get service-connected disability benefits for diseases associated with Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War.
First, HR 969 (the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act) was introduced in February of this year and it has considerable bi-partisan support. The bill would include as part of the Republic of Vietnam its “territorial seas” for purposes of the presumption of service-connection for diseases associated with exposure by veterans to certain herbicide agents while in Vietnam.
As the bill’s sponsor, Representative Christopher Gibson (R-NY) said, this legislation, “places Navy Personnel on the same playing field as those who served on Vietnamese territory during the war – it’s the right thing to do.” We couldn’t agree more!
Rep. Gibson also noted that the bill would reduce the tremendous backlog of VA claims for veterans suffering from diseases the government links to Agent Orange.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced S-681 just last week in the Senate. That legislation is the Senate companion to the House bill and it would further clarify the service-connection presumption for Blue Water Navy veterans.
You can check out the Blue Water Navy Awareness Blog here: http://bluewaternavyawarenss.blogspot.com/
And we join the group in their call for you and your neighbors to contact your representatives and senators and urge them to support this legislation. It is very encouraging that these bills have bi-partisan sponsors and support, but similar legislation in the past has fallen victim to the dreadfully slow legislative process and died while in committee – where these two bills currently remain.