Why Are 90,000 Veterans Being Denied Agent Orange Coverage?

…because a lone Republican senator and Dear Leader said so, that’s why.  The injustice  is magnified by the fact that Trump dodged being drafted himself, while these veterans did not have that privilege. They were called upon to serve their country and they did so with bravery and honor. Please read this post by my friend Mel McMorris, a Vietnam veteran, published here with permission.

by Mel McMorris

Agent Orange. During my time in Vietnam my area of operations, according to a Department of Defense interactive map, was the most heavily sprayed area in all of Vietnam. I’m on the Agent Orange (AO) Registry. This is my AO newsletter. Page 2 lists the medically proven terminal illnesses caused by Agent Orange. There’s a second list you can ignore unless you were stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC and drank its polluted water. (Flint, MI sound familiar?)

Many veterans, boots on the ground in Vietnam or Korea, have VA healthcare coverage for AO illnesses. Blue water sailors who served off the South China Sea coast of Vietnam are not covered even if they handled or were exposed to AO.

In 2018 a bill, HR 299, was introduced to correct this. It passed in a bi-partisan vote by 382-0, after the House of Representative rules were suspended.

In the Senate, one Republican, Mike Enzi (WY), held it hostage until it ultimately died. The president publically supported passage but flipflopped (?) and opposed the bill. The two VA Secretaries, so far, opposed passage. EVERY major veterans organization strongly supports passage and have vowed to never give up this fight. When numbers get crunched about 90 senators have indicated they’ll vote for it if given the opportunity.

These are the details, associated with this bill, provided by the Congressional Budget Office: 10 years of coverage (because after that time most of those exposed to Agent Orange will be dead from at least one of the fifteen diseases) at a cost of $2.2 billion for 90,000 blue water sailors.

I believe 90,000 soldier’s lives are worth it. And I would guess their families would agree.


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