This page summarizes the current status of Agent Orange legislation based on information received from various organizations to include: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association, Military-Veterans Advocacy, Tin Can Sailors, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and other reputable sources. This is followed by excerpts of their reports. As it becomes dated but continues to be relevant, the information will be moved to the related Agent Orange drop-down tab on the main menu, above.
Update posted 10 OCT 2016
Article from Virginian Pilot. Click here to see the article
As of September 1st, 2016, it appears that Agent Orange legislation is at a standstill and the VA continues to arbitrarily deny Blue Water Navy veteran claims. House Bill 969 is not moving ahead because of procedural issues and the unwillingness of the House Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committe to move the bill forward. Senate Bill 681 is stalled because of cost scoring issues by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Congress continues to be lobbied to take action in our favor. There are lawsuits against the VA to change their policies. It all sounds pretty dire, and maybe it is. However, our advocates are not giving up. Neither should we. If you believe you have a valid claim, you should file it. It takes several months for the VA to review claims. Accordingly, the issues described on this website may be resolved when the VA reviews your claim. Let's not give up!
From: Blue Water Navy
Comments extracted from Blue Water Navy update dated July 11, 2016. The complete update is available at www.bluewaternavy.org
Regarding status in the House of Representatives:
"The Rules of Suspension in the House can be put into effect once 2/3 of the House has approved a Bill. That is 66% of 435 House Representatives, which is 290 cosponsors. HR 969 currently has 331 cosponsors which is 76% of the House. HOWEVER, Representative Chris Gibson, who introduced HR969 in the House, was stopped from doing a 'suspension of the rules' action by the 'House Leadership.' Without the Leadership support, there cannot be any action within the House."
Regarding status in the Senate:
"John, (John Wells, lawyer representing Blue Water Navy), mentions the CBO Score of $1.1 Billion over 10 years. There had been a previous CBO ESTIMATE of $830 Million. I don't know where that number went, but I believe the CBO may have made a miscalculation based on a misundestanding."
Regarding status of court cases in Federal District Court:
"The first is a suit against the VA for denying Blue water navy benefits that the Federal Circuit Court initially said they did not have any jurisdiction to hear. We appealed that initial decisions and should have a ruling on that issue any day. If approved, we will move forward making our case the against the VA to the Federal Court."
"The second is a suit against the VA for their release of the February 5th, 2016 updates to the M-21 Manual, which state in writing their stance on denying that any bays, port, harbors or other offshore water were contaminated with Agent Orange dioxin."
From: Military-Veterans Advocacy
John Wells, CDR, USN (Ret) and a lawyer is Executive Director of Military-Veterans Advocacy Inc. He has been heavily involved with Agent Orange related legislative issues and has worked very closely with Blue Water Navy. CDR Wells is the author of the following.
Excerpts from Military-Veterans Advocacy Report from Capitol Hill, July 2016. The complete report is available at www.militaryveteransadvocacy.org
"In the House, Chairman Miller has refused to move the bill (H.R. 969) forward due to concerns about the evidence. We are now being told that there is not enough evidence to support the bill"
NOTE: Jeff Miller, R-Florida (panhandle area), is Chairman of House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
"Chairman Miller will retire from Congress at the end of this year, the current Vice-Chair, Congressman Billarakis (R-Florida) is a big supporter of this bill and we hope he is named as chair for the next Congress."
From Tin Can Sailors:
In The Tin Can Sailor magazine, July-August-September issue.
The feature story, beginning on page 2,written and copyrighted by CAPT Morgan Little, USNR (Ret). CAPT Morgan writes and is quoted in part.
"Ships in Vietnam are a contentious issue. The guiding objective of this project was to separate the Brown Water Navy from the Blue Water Navy. When the Congressional Budget Office scores a bill, they have thus far not taken the Brown Water Navy ships out. The Brown Water Navy has long received benefits from the VA because they had boots on the ground in Vietnam. If the Brown Water Navy is not trimmed out of scoring a Blue Water Navy Equity Act and is scored along with Blue Water Navy legislation, the Brown Water Navy is counted twice, in the Department of Vetgrans Affairs annual budget and again when included with the Blue Water Navy. The Brown Water Navy is, therefore, being counted twice. Counting the Brown Water Navy twice increases the cost of the bill precipitously and further delays the Blue Water Navy's eligibility for benfits." (C) 2016 Morgan Little
You can read the entire article as it appeared in The Tin Can Sailor by clicking on the following link which will take you to the Tin Can Sailor page of this website.
To connect to the Tin Can Sailor website, click on the following link:
From the Department of Veterans Affairs:
The VA has not changed its position and policies regarding Blue Water Navy veterans' presumption of exposure to Agent Orange. The VA position excludes all but individuals who literally had "boots on the ground" in Vietnam and for persons who served on ships operating in listed inland waterways of Vietnam. The Beale is not on this list. You can click on the following link to connect to the VA website.
VA Agent Orange Newsletter Summer 2016