Today, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Cali.) and Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, issued the following statement after H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, was signed into law:
“Today, we are proud to say that the tens of thousands of Blue Water Navy veterans can rest easy tonight knowing that the benefits that they earned while serving off the coasts of Vietnam will be guaranteed. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 is finally law and is the culmination of a decades-long bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill to properly recognize these veterans’ claims and grant them the justice they have waited for. This day would not be possible without the leadership and unwavering commitment of our House and Senate colleagues, countless veteran voices, and the Veterans Service Organizations behind them including the Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, The American Legion, AMVETS, Fleet Reserve Association, Military Officers Association of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and Paralyzed Veterans of America. We are so grateful to each of them and look forward to continuing our work together to ensure that every one of those who have bravely fought for our country is afforded the care, benefits, and services that they deserve.”
Agent Orange was an herbicide used during the Vietnam era that has been known to be associated with certain health issues in people who have been exposed to it. The Agent Orange Act of 1991 stipulated that, if a veteran served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 and has a disease that has been associated with exposure to Agent Orange, they are automatically presumed to have been exposed and, therefore, qualify for VA disability compensation. The Blue Water Navy Veterans Act of 2019 would extend the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange to veterans who served on the offshore waters of Vietnam. The law also makes several improvements to VA’s Home Loan Guarantee Program. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.