A picture of Representative Rosa L. DeLauro
Rosa D.
Democrat CT 3

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  • Recognizing the Town of Seymour’s Resolution Concerning the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act

    by Representative Rosa L. DeLauro

    Posted on 2013-12-16

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    DeLAURO of connecticut in the house of representatives Monday, December 16, 2013 Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker. it is with my full support of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act that I rise today at the request of First Selectman Kurt Miller, the Board of Selectmen, and the Town of Seymour to officially submit the following town resolution into the Congressional Record: Whereas, During the Vietnam War, the United States military sprayed 22 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides over Vietnam to reduce forest cover and crops used by the enemy; these herbicides contained dioxin, which has since been identified as carcinogenic and has been linked with a number of serious and disabling illnesses affecting thousands of veterans; and Whereas, The United States Congress passed the Agent Orange Act of 1991, to address the plight of veterans exposed to herbicides while serving the Republic of Vietnam; the Act amended Title 38 of the United States Code to presumptively recognize as service-connected certain diseases among military personnel who served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975; this presumption has provided access to appropriate disability compensation and medical care for Vietnam veterans diagnosed with such illnesses as Type II diabetes, Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, prostate cancer, Parkinson's, multiple myeloma, peripheral neuropathy, AL Amyloidosis respiratory cancers, and soft tissue sarcomas and others yet to be identified; and Whereas, Pursuant to a 2001 directive, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs policy has denied the presumption of a service connection for herbicide-related illnesses to Vietnam veterans who cannot furnish written documentation that they had ``boots on the ground'' in- country, making it virtually impossible for countless United States Navy, Marine and Air Force veterans to pursue their claims for benefits; moreover, personnel who served on ships in the ``Blue Water Navy'' in Vietnamese territorial waters were, in fact, exposed to dangerous airborne toxins, which not only drifted offshore but washed into streams and rivers draining into the South China Seas; and Whereas, The United States Navy has been excluded ever since, Agent Orange has been verified, through various studies and reports, as a wide spreading chemical that was able to reach Navy Ships through the air and waterborne distribution routes; and Whereas, Warships positioned off the Vietnamese shore routinely distilled seawater to obtain potable water, a 2002 Australian study found that the distillation process, rather than removing toxins, in fact concentrated dioxin in water used for drinking, cooking, and washing; this study was conducted by the Australian Department of Veterans Affairs after it found that Vietnam veterans of the Royal Australian Navy had a higher rate of mortality from Agent Orange- associated diseases than did Vietnam veterans from other branches of the military; when the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied specific cancers among Vietnam veterans, it found a higher risk of cancer among United States Navy veterans; and Whereas, Herbicides containing TCDD did not discriminate between soldiers on the ground and sailors on ships offshore, and Whereas, More than 30 Veterans Service Organizations support the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013; by not passing H.R. 543, a precedent could be set to selectively provide certain groups with injury-related medical care while denying other groups without any financial, scientific or consistent reasoning, and Whereas, When the Agent Orange Act passed in 1991 with no dissenting votes, congressional leaders stressed the importance of responding to the health concerns of Vietnam veterans and ending the bitterness and anxiety that had surrounded the issue of herbicide exposure, the federal government has also demonstrated its awareness of the hazards of Agent Orange exposure through its involvement in the identification, containment, and mitigation of dioxin ``hot spots'' in Vietnam; and Whereas, The United States Congress should reaffirm the nation's commitment to the well-being of all of its veterans and direct the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to administer the Agent Orange Act under the presumption that herbicide exposure in the Republic of Vietnam includes the country's inland waterways, offshore waters, and airspace; similarly, now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Town of Seymour hereby respectfully urge the Congress of the United States to restore the presumption of a service connection for Agent Orange exposure to United States Veterans who served on the inland waterways, in the territorial waters, and in the airspace over the combat zone.


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