04.17.19

Daines Continues Bipartisan Fight for Vietnam Veterans Harmed By Agent Orange

U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines renewed efforts to secure disability and health care benefits for Navy veterans, known as “Blue Water” veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange while fighting in the Vietnam War.

“Commonsense tells us that sailors who were exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam deserve the same level of care as their counterparts ashore,” Daines said.  “Together with the court’s recent Procopio decision, this bill should settle any questions over Congress’ intent to care for all Vietnam veterans who were injured in the line of duty.”

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed approximately 20 million gallons of Agent Orange in Vietnam to remove jungle foliage. This toxic chemical had devastating health effects on millions serving in Vietnam. In 1991, Congress passed a law requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide presumptive coverage to Vietnam veterans with illnesses that the Institute of Medicine has directly linked to Agent Orange exposure. However, in 2002, the VA decided that it would only cover Veterans who could prove that they had orders for “boots on the ground” during the Vietnam War. This exclusion prevents thousands of sailors from receiving benefits even though they had significant Agent Orange exposure from drinking and bathing in contaminated water just offshore.  

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) also introduced the legislation with Daines.

Background:  

On February 19th, 2019, Daines and Gillibrand wrote U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie urging him to ensure all of the blue water veterans have timely access to the care and benefits they have earned.

On December 11th, 2018, Daines joined bipartisan senators and veterans to call for Senate passage of the bipartisan Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act.

On February 17th, 2017, Daines and Gillibrand reintroduced the bipartisan Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act.

On May 18th, 2016, Daines joined U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Representatives Chris Gibson (R-NY) and David Valadao (R-CA) to rally support for their legislation to ensure Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans are eligible to receive benefits linked to Agent Orange Exposure.

On February 25th, 2016, Daines urged the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to clarify their misguided decision against providing "Blue Water” Navy veterans with the disability and health care benefits that they deserve for diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure.

On February 8th, 2016, Daines called on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to immediately take up their legislation to ensure “Blue Water” Navy veterans are made eligible for service-connected disability Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and health care as a result of Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War. 

On March 9th, 2015, Daines introduced legislation to ensure thousands of Navy veterans known as "Blue Water" vets from the Vietnam War exposed to the powerful toxin Agent Orange will be eligible to receive disability and health care benefits they have earned for diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure.

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