Mazie Hirono Aims to Help Vets Exposed to Agent Orange
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is aiming to help the thousands of Navy vets who came in contact with Agent Orange, the tactical herbicide used by the U.S. military from 1962 to 1975. It was named for the orange band around the storage barrel. The military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange and other tactical herbicides on trees and vegetation during the Vietnam War. Hirono reintroduced the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act to ensure these vets would become eligible to receive Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation and health care benefits. The term “Blue Water” Navy veterans applies to those who served in the territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam. “Thousands of Blue Water Navy veterans continue to suffer from serious, chronic illnesses and yet, the VA has repeatedly denied them VA health benefits because they happened to serve our country at sea rather than on land,” Hirono said. “These veterans’ stories are heartbreaking and we must pass the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act to correct this wrong.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit earlier this year ruled in favor of Alfred Procopio Jr., a Blue Water Navy veteran, saying that Vietnam War veterans who were stationed offshore during the war and developed health problems linked to the exposure of Agent Orange were entitled to the same benefits as those who put boots on the ground or patrolled Vietnam’s inland rivers. This decision will impact an estimated 52,000 Blue Water Navy veterans nationwide, who are now eligible to receive care and compensation from the VA. Joining Hirono in this bipartisan bill’s introduction are Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Steve Daines (R-MT). More here.