March 24, 2011 - New legislation (H.R. 812) has been introduced and if passed, will "restore equity to all Vietnam veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange." The bill was introduced by Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA-51), a ranking democratic member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. Congressman Filner believes this country has an ethical duty to help any veteran with health problems as a result of his or her contact with Agent Orange.
H.R. 812 is designed to make clear laws associated with those benefits given to Vietnam veterans due to their exposure to Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant widely used during the Vietnam war. The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) rules demand veterans prove they actually had "foot on land" to be able to draw disability from having a service-related illness presumed to be caused by Agent Orange exposure.
The VA's rules were upheld by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals on May 8, 2008 and the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal. The VA's application of those laws essentially denied disability compensation to potentially thousands of veterans because of the geographical location of their deployment despite being exposed to Agent Orange while stationed there. It would be hard to believe this was Congress's intent while passing these laws.
Should H.R. 812 pass, every soldier issued the Vietnam Service medal, every Blue Water veteran, and anyone deployed to the Republic of Vietnam will be eligible to receive disability compensation under the 1991 laws Congress passed. There are plenty of veterans suffering the effects of Agent Orange exposure without any recourse. The sooner this legislation comes to a vote the better.
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