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https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20170&cosponId=23182
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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: March 6, 2017 02:35 PM
From: Representative R. Lee James
To: All House members
Subject: Resolution – Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017/ H.R. 299
 
In the near future, I plan to introduce a resolution memorializing Congress to enact H.R. 299 known as the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017.

During the Vietnam War, more than 22 million gallons of chemical were sprayed, which included spraying by hand, aircraft and by South Vietnamese, during the war to defoliate areas of the jungle and to destroy crops.

The United States Congress Passed the Agent Orange Act of 1991 to address the plight of veterans exposed to herbicides while serving in the Republic of Vietnam; the Act amended Title 38 of the United States Code to presumptively recognize as service-connected certain diseases among military personnel who served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975.

This presumption has provided access to appropriate disability compensation and medical care for Vietnam veterans diagnosed with such illnesses and Type II diabetes, Hodgkin’s’ disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers and soft-tissue sarcomas.

H.R. 299 was introduced on January 19, 2017, by Congressman David G. Valadao of California. This bill expands the presumptions for service connected illness related to exposure to herbicides containing dioxin, including Agent Orange, to veterans who served in the territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Veterans who served on ships, “Blue Water Navy” in Vietnamese territorial waters were, in fact exposed to dangerous airborne toxins, which not only drifted offshore but also washed into streams draining into the South China Sea. These Veterans on ships were no more distant from the spraying of herbicides than many who served on land, yet they are denied benefits of the presumption of exposure, and thereby are ineligible for presumption of service connected illness for herbicide-related disabilities. This legislation corrects this injustice.

H.R. 299 currently has 148 cosponsors and has been referred to the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. DAV supports this legislation pursuant to DAV Resolution No. 018, passed at our most recent National Convention, held at Atlanta, Georgia, July 31-August 3, 2016.

Please join me in sponsoring this resolution asking Congress to recognize the dedication and sacrifice of these brave veterans by enacting H.R. 299, to extend the presumption of service connected illness to certain diseases by certain Navy and Air Force veterans who served in Vietnam.

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Introduced as HR149