Support for Blue Water Navy
At House Committee Hearing

Two Veteran Service Organizations, the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) and the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) spoke out in favor of ending the exclusion of Blue Water Navy as well as Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia veterans (and others) from benefits of exposure to Agent Orange at a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on March 12, 2009. The following excepts are from their written testimonies:

Fleet Reserve Association

Eliminate Restrictions on Agent Orange Disability Claims by “Blue Water” Veterans who served in Vietnam:
FRA appreciates and supports Chairman Filner’s leadership on legislation that seeks to reverse the VA’s policy that prevents “blue water” military retirees and veterans from claiming disability benefits for diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange, and is disappointed that the VA recently announced final action on claims affected by the ongoing legal case of Haas v. Peake, a court case related to Agent Orange exposure for Vietnam veterans. This issue is especially important to members of the FRA because many Navy veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam (“blue water” veterans), now have health problems commonly associated with herbicide exposure, but have endured lengthy legal struggles to prove these problems are service-related. The “Agent Orange Equity Act” (H.R. 6562) was introduced in the 110th Congress in response to a recent court ruling that the VA’s definition of “service in the Republic of Vietnam” (which includes only those who set foot in, served on inland waterways or put into port in Vietnam) should remain the standard for proving exposure. This definition, used by VA for more than a decade, excludes veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam and this legislation (H.R. 6562) would allow those who served in the surrounding waters off the coast of Vietnam and in the skies above to file a claim for exposure to Agent Orange. FRA hopes that with a new Administration and a new Secretary of Veterans Affairs that the VA will re-examine its position on this issue.

Vietnam Veterans of America