Please wait while the document is loaded.

A03744
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE RESOLUTION
No.
335
Session of
2024
INTRODUCED BY TAKAC, CABELL, MUNROE, WATRO, KHAN, MAKO, PIELLI,
MAJOR, KINSEY, DONAHUE, GIRAL, JAMES, McNEILL, SAPPEY,
PROBST, STEHR, GUENST, GLEIM, NEILSON, FLICK, MERSKI,
HOHENSTEIN, SANCHEZ, HOWARD, BRENNAN, VITALI, R. MACKENZIE,
HILL-EVANS, BOROWSKI, DELLOSO, JOZWIAK, MENTZER, CEPEDA-
FREYTIZ, MALAGARI, DALEY, SCHLOSSBERG, SHUSTERMAN, SOLOMON,
STENDER, TWARDZIK, MERCURI, O'MARA, PICKETT, KENYATTA,
MIHALEK, RAPP, STEELE, M. JONES, WAXMAN, CERRATO, KRUPA,
CIRESI AND C. WILLIAMS, MARCH 6, 2024
AS REPORTED FROM COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS AND EMERGENCY
PREPAREDNESS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AS AMENDED,
MARCH 20, 2024
A RESOLUTION
Establishing the Pennsylvania Task Force on Agent Orange AND
OTHER TOXINS to study and issue a report on how best to
connect veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange AND OTHER
TOXINS and their families with the VA benefits for which they
may be eligible.
WHEREAS, The United States military used a blend of
herbicides known as Agent Orange between 1962 and 1971 to remove
trees and other foliage that provided cover to enemies during
the Vietnam War; and
WHEREAS, Agent Orange was used in and around Vietnam, the
Korean demarcation line, Cambodia and Laos, including 11 million
gallons over 20 million acres in Vietnam; and
WHEREAS, The United States banned the use of Agent Orange in
1971 as evidence emerged of the harmful and deadly side effects
of exposure to the chemical; and
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
WHEREAS, Exposure to Agent Orange occurred through
respiration, ingestion or absorption; and
WHEREAS, Although the exact number of people exposed to Agent
Orange is unknown, an estimated 3 million United States soldiers
served in regions and years the chemical was being used and an
estimated additional 3 million residents of Vietnam may have
been exposed; and
WHEREAS, The United States Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) has concluded that several diseases in veterans can be
presumed to be a result of their exposure to Agent Orange,
including several forms of cancer, neurological and
psychological conditions and birth defects among veterans'
children; and
WHEREAS, As of 2023, more than 300,000 United States veterans
and 400,000 Vietnam residents have died from exposure to Agent
Orange in Vietnam; and
WHEREAS, The VA offers:
(1) disability benefits and health care to veterans
exposed to Agent Orange;
(2) stipends, health care and vocational training to the
biological children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange who
have birth defects; and
(3) survivor benefits to the spouses, dependent children
and dependent parents of veterans who died as a result of
exposure to Agent Orange;
and
WHEREAS, The Agent Orange Registry health exam is free to
eligible veterans, does not require enrollment in the VA health
care system and alerts veterans to possible long-term health
problems that may be related to Agent Orange exposure during
A03744 - 2 -
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
their military service; and
WHEREAS, The VA continues to study the links between exposure
to Agent Orange and the presence of diseases and declares that a
presumption of service-connection exists in the onset of certain
diseases, therefore qualifying veterans with those diseases to
receive Federal benefits; and
WHEREAS, The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019
extended the presumption of service-connection for certain
diseases associated with Agent Orange to veterans who served
offshore of Vietnam or in or near the Korean demarcation zone
during the times when Agent Orange was used in those regions,
extending the range of qualified veterans to include sailors in
addition to soldiers; and
WHEREAS, The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson
Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act
of 2022 extended the presumption of service-connection for
certain diseases associated with Agent Orange, burn pits and
other toxic substances to veterans who served during specified
time frames in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Guam, American Samoa
and in the waters of, or on, the Johnson Atoll, and for veterans
of the Gulf War era and post-9/11 era; and
WHEREAS, The VA has received more than 920,000 total PACT Act
related claims since the law was enacted; and
WHEREAS, Pennsylvania has the third-largest veteran
population in the United States; and
WHEREAS, In 2023, more than 27,300 Pennsylvanians received
benefits from the VA connected to their exposure to Agent
Orange; and
WHEREAS, The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
estimates that more Pennsylvanians are eligible for Federal
A03744 - 3 -
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
benefits related to their exposure to Agent Orange in addition
to those who are currently receiving benefits; and
WHEREAS, The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs,
county directors of veterans affairs and veterans service
organizations are all working to assist the VA in identifying
and assisting veterans and surviving spouses in applying for
Federal benefits for which they qualify; therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives establish the
Pennsylvania Task Force on Agent Orange AND OTHER TOXINS to
study and issue a report on how best to connect veterans who
were exposed to Agent Orange AND OTHER TOXINS and their families
with the VA benefits for which they may be eligible; and be it
further
RESOLVED, That the Task Force consist of the following
members:
(1) the Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans Affairs or
a designee, who shall serve as the chairperson of the Task
Force;
(2) a health care provider in this Commonwealth who has
experience in providing health care to veterans, appointed by
the Governor;
(3) one member appointed by the President pro tempore of
the Senate;
(4) one member appointed by the Speaker of the House of
Representatives;
(5) one member appointed by the Minority Leader of the
Senate;
(6) one member appointed by the Minority Leader of the
House of Representatives; and
(7) a representative of each of the following veterans'
A03744 - 4 -
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
organizations, appointed by the respective veterans'
organization:
(i) the Military Order of the Purple Heart;
(ii) the State Association of County Directors of
Veterans Affairs;
(iii) the Vietnam Veterans of America;
(iv) the American Legion;
(v) the Disabled American Veterans;
(vi) the Veterans of Foreign Wars; and
(vii) American Veterans;
and be it further
RESOLVED, That the Task Force meet periodically at the
discretion of the chairperson of the Task Force; and be it
further
RESOLVED, That the Task Force issue a report based on its
study that includes:
(1) an assessment of facilitators that help veterans
become aware of benefits for which they are eligible;
(2) an assessment of barriers that prevent veterans from
knowing about benefits for which they may be eligible;
(3) a list of conditions presumed to be caused by
exposure to Agent Orange AND OTHER TOXINS;
(4) all the benefits for which veterans exposed to Agent
Orange AND OTHER TOXINS could be eligible;
(5) how veterans can apply for benefits;
(6) where veterans can receive assistance;
(7) the timeline between when one applies for and begins
receiving benefits; and
(8) any other information that the Task Force deems
necessary;
A03744 - 5 -
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
and be it further
RESOLVED, That the report include recommendations on how to
improve veterans' access to the VA benefits or treatment options
for which they are eligible and how best to communicate with
veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange AND OTHER TOXINS; and
be it further
RESOLVED, That the Department of Military and Veterans
Affairs provide administrative and other support to the Task
Force; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the Task Force issue a report of its findings,
which shall include its recommendations for legislation, if any,
to the Senate and the House of Representatives on or before
January 1, 2025.
A03744 - 6 -
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13