Rep. Valadao Urges Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee to Pass Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Legislation
Today, U.S. Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-21), joined by 118 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives, sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee urging the timely consideration of H.R. 299.WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-21), joined by 118 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives, sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee urging the timely consideration of H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act by the Committee.
In January 2017, Congressman Valadao introduced H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act to grant presumptive Agent Orange exposure status to U.S. service members who served in the territorial seas of Vietnam during the Vietnam War and thus, ensure America’s veterans receive the health care benefits they deserve. On June 25, 2018, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 299 and sent the legislation to the Senate for further consideration.
Just prior to the release of the Valadao-led letter, Former Secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs, David Shulkin, MD, also sent a letter urging the Senate to pass the legislation.
During the Vietnam War, more than 20 million gallons of the herbicide “Agent Orange” were sprayed to remove jungle foliage. A toxic chemical in the herbicide has since been linked to devastating health effects, including non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL), various cancers, Type II Diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.
The Agent Orange Act of 1991 (AOA) empowered the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to declare certain illnesses “presumptive” to exposure to Agent Orange and enabled veterans to receive disability compensation for these related conditions.
However, in 2002, the VA stopped giving benefits to blue water veterans and limited the scope of the AOA to only those veterans who could provide proof of “boots on the ground” in Vietnam. As a result, veterans who served in the waters off of the Vietnamese coast or in bays and harbors were required to file individual claims to restore their benefits, which have then been decided on a case-by-case basis.
Congressman David G. Valadao represents the 21st Congressional District of California, which includes Kings County and portions of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern Counties.