116th Congress: It’s been one month since H.R.6395, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, passed over a veto on 1/1/21 and became Public Law No: 116-283.
It includes an important AO amendment, pushed through by Sen. Tester of Montana, now also law. (Four years + AO advocacy)
TITLE XCI–VETERANS AFFAIRS MATTERS
Sec. 9109. Additional diseases associated with exposure to certain
herbicide agents for which there is a presumption of service
connection for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam.
SEC. 9109. ADDITIONAL DISEASES ASSOCIATED WITH EXPOSURE TO CERTAIN HERBICIDE AGENTS FOR WHICH THERE IS A PRESUMPTION OF SERVICE CONNECTION FOR VETERANS WHO SERVED IN THE REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM. Section 1116(a)(2) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraphs: ``(I) Parkinsonism. ``(J) Bladder cancer. ``(K) Hypothyroidism.''
Now what? Don’t see anything on the VA website, or the Federal Register yet. VSO’s quiet but I found this:
NY Vietnam Vets writes (1/8) :”Please note, once proposed legislation has been signed into law, the Executive Branch is responsible for implementing it. VVA will work with Congress and the Department of Veteran Affairs to ensure that these new bills are fully implemented.” More at VVA.
So the Biden Administration will implement this–but when? Robert Wilke is gone; Dat Tran is interim secretary. Denis McDonough has been nominated for VA Secretary.
Send Questions to the Tippy Top People
White House VA Hotline (VEO): 24/7 call line
Your Senators & representatives have “FIND YOUR______”forms online
The 2020 Agent Orange (AO) Newsletter, published irregularly by VA’s Public Health department, is the most recent.
Who to poke? Your local Environmental Exposures Co-ordinators by state or VISN have email and phone numbers listed. They may have some good information to share or can get it.
Unlike the Blue Water Navy Act, I don’t see a reference to any Effective Date of Award. Alex advises submitting a claim as soon as possible.
58,318 Americans died in Vietnam. Tens of thousands died after the war from Agent Orange; tens of thousands of oldies are still fighting AO. Only about 32% remain.
Who in the Senate doesn’t get it or care?
Without unbiased research, informed lawmakers, and fair-minded patriotic citizens, I think life for disabled or injured veterans and their families will not improve. Maybe term limits would help?
The 117th U. S. Congress has convened with over 65 new members. There is a new-old administration. One hopes for speedy reforms. Younger vets are experiencing the same delay and deny tactics that have been used in the past. They have seen elder vets suffer needlessly. On the streets. Fifty years to get welcomed home...(VFW).
And it’s 1, 2, 3, what’re we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn
Next stop is vietnam
And it’s 5, 6, 7, open up the pearly gates
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why
Whoopee! We’re all gonna die
Laura (Guest author)
My current VA PCP has never asked me about AO exposure and it is all over my records. No doctor I have ever seen in private practice of at the VA has asked me about AO, and yet I suffer from a host of AO problems.
Great article, Laura. I commend you for your sleuthing. On another note, who among us who fought the VC/NVA in that “conflict” (certainly not a war) would live to see the day a Vietnamese or a second generation one would be in charge of the VA-even as a temporary placeholder? The times they are achangin’. Another song rises to my lips…
I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
What I learned recently from writing to these “distinguished gentlemen and ladies” is that the following is true:
First I wrote to President Trump and got a very non descript letter back that said essentially “We are looking into it.” I felt better already knowing that the White House was “looking into it.” Wow!
Second, I wrote to my “distinguished gentlemen and one distinguished lady–Marsha Blackburn.
What do you think the response that I got was? Wait for it, nothing. I suppose that I didn’t kick in enough “Dark Money” to be important.
Third, with that last response I got, static over the airwaves, I obtained a copy of the book
“Confessions of Congressman X.” Everyone to include vets should read this because he tells the attitude of these “Distinguished Gentlemen.” One chapter is titled “I always vot with my largest contributor.”
And with this current “resident in the White House” good old Joe when he visited the airmen and soldiers in Afghanistan he told them all “…Clap you stupid bastards…” that was a part of the news that CNN, and the rest of the prestitutes lost. That is what this current “resident” in the White House thinks of us.
And once again we Thailand vets (classified as Vietnam vets) who were exposed are left out to die. Thanks a lot –when called to serve we did –now that we need help we are forgotten.
I don’t see how they can legally deny AO claims. This case-by-case basis decision making is a scam. Alex has posted some relevant images.
VA considers disability benefits claims based on exposure to herbicides on a U.S. military base in Thailand or Royal Thai Air Force base between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, on a case-by-case basis.
Location: Royal Thai Army Replacement Center, Pranburi Military Reservation
Date: April 1964/January 1964
Site: Hua Hin Airport. Ground calibration of Aircraft spray system, defoliation tests.
Location: Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base
Date: October and November 1968; December 28, 1968 – January 2, 1969; February 2-5, 1969; August 31 – Sept. 7, 1969.
Site: Herbicides were only temporarily at Udorn to refill planes for missions in northern Laos.
I am pretty sure thousands of Vietnam vets have died from AO diseases without ever getting compensation for themselves or their spouses. Many have no idea that the heart attack or the cancer they have is AO related. Unless you keep up with this stuff nobody at the VA is going to tell you. Every time I go to my cardiologist I meet some old RVN vet who has five stents but does not know it could be AO related.
Did you ever read General Smedly Butler’s (USMC) book “War is a racket?” You should because that will tell you how important to these “persons” or as we oft called them in the Corps, “F***ing worms.
No, we didn’t–but it looks great. And short. In the public domain now, free to read online or download at hathitrust.
Thanks for the recommendation.
Old Gimlet Eye; the adventures of Smedley D. Butler as told to Lowell Thomas; illustrated by Paul Brown.
To John King,
Yup. The new patient health forms at private care providers should ask about military service. Probably about firefighters, police, and anyone exposed to toxins & pathogens.
AI at VA could link patients not only to care, but provide fact sheets about possible benefits relating to their conditions. Would be easy. My old Marine keeps getting surveys, invites to trials, so they could include benefit info. at without extra postage.
See response below…
Gentlemen please forgive me for being so point blank and cutting at times. Since I served with 3d Marines in Viet Nam in 1964 and 65, I learned that many people that claim to be on our side held a knife in their hands held behind their backs. I watched one debacle after another only to see fat cat senators and representatives get rich at our sacrifices and our blood shed. I learned that many of these when the cameras were rolling were all smiles and hand their arms around our shoulders only to remove them when the camera quit rolling. In other words, most of them wouldn’t have pissed on us if we’d been on fire. George S Patton said it best: “Politicians are the lowest form of life on earth. Democrats are the lowest form of politicians.” The general was correct of course. So being of Irish and Scottish along with my great grandmother being full blood Cherokee and my immediat grandmother being half, I came by it honestly.
When the war was over in Nam the politicians would have forgot us if it hadn’t been for the venerable Sara McClendon of the Washington press corps embarrassing Richard Nixon on public television. She brought the plight of Viet Vets to the public that the politicians didn’t want anyone to know about. God bless Sara McClendon, and God bless our brave men and women in the Middle East.
Exactly. After my husband died of stomach cancer in 2001, I called the VA and ask if there was anything for Daryl’s daughters and me. They said no. It was only when I started hearing about the Blue Water Veterans did it click that his death may have been AO related.
Term limits are a horrible idea.
Good article. I’m keeping an open mind on this issue. One of my senators, Patrick Leahy, age 80, has held this position for over 45 years. I think that’s too long. I would like to hear from 3rd party candidates for senator, but he’s so entrenched, few have much of a chance to be heard.
Term limits are a GREAT IDEA… we use the excuse that somehow the longer these creatents serve they somehow get better and more effective… I worked in a hospital as a high school kid and met my future wife and her father (who was a physician) over dinner I asked the question “Why do they fire the hospital administrator so often” he replied you must get rid of them when they figure out how to steal” the proficiency at their job is greed and larceny not operating a better government… just look for a moment at ALL the long term politicians and it becomes painfully obvious!