Washington D.C. – Congressman John Faso (R-Kinderhook) highlighted committee passage of H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. This is the first time Blue Water Navy legislation has passed the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. H.R. 299 has 329 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and passed through the committee unanimously.
“This is just the beginning for our Blue Water Navy veterans as there is still more to come. On behalf of our Blue Water Navy veterans, thank you to Representative Faso for his support on HR 299. This bill is a long time coming for our veterans.” – Kingston, NY resident Carol Olszanecki, Advocate for Blue Water Navy Veterans
“Agent Orange has had a devastating effect on the health of exposed veterans and we still do not know the full array of complications due to exposure,” said Faso. “Our veterans deserve access to the benefits that they have earned, and in this case, Blue Water Navy veterans were wronged simply due to when and where they were exposed to these toxins. This legislation is needed and I hope it is passed by Congress as quickly as possible.”
The Agent Orange Act of 1991 extended disability compensation to Vietnam veterans who 1) served between 1962 and 1975 and 2) exhibited a disease indicative of Agent Orange exposure. The Department of Veterans Affairs, however, interpreted the law to only cover veterans who were “boots on the ground,” meaning that they served on Vietnam’s mainland and/or the inland waterways.
H.R. 299 restores this presumption of coverage for disability benefits to the Blue Water Navy veterans who were also exposed while on ships in the surrounding seas.