25 January 2014

Blue Water Navy Vets Suggestion A Correction From C-123 Veterans

Gladly done, John

I once posted a comparison between the two Agent Orange-exposed groups, citing proofs each may have. My goal was to differentiate the two sets of evidence, not to separate us as veterans with a common goal. The point I'd hoped for was that the C-123 veterans need to stand apart, on the basis of our own eligibility because we'd never qualify under the set of qualifications the Blue Water Navy has as their pathway.

John is correct: the BWN veterans were originally covered by the VA, but a few years ago VA narrowed its definition of Vietnam veteran to the "boots on the ground" troops. This excluded BWN, except for the sailors already having a VA disability rating.

I appreciate John's note and his good wishes, and extend to the BWN our regards and hopes that both groups will prevail in this struggle with the VA.
            I’d like to applaud you for your tenacity and the resulting well-written email on countering the discrimination the C-123 pilots are receiving from the VA. The facts are in your favor, and the reactions of the VA are embarrassing to any rational analysis. You lay the facts out well, with one exception.
            I’m aware that you feel there is no comparison between the problems of the C-123 pilots, who you believe have rock-solid evidence of exposure, and the Blue Water Navy veterans, who you believe are grasping at straws to search for a means of exposure.
            That’s OK…. We can all believe what we want. But since you are a very factual, non-speculative person regarding these issues of dioxin exposure, I feel you should stick to that mindset, even in your comments about the Blue Water Navy situation.
            When the Agent Orange Act of 1991 was written and passed, the only description contained in the Act itself addressed “a veteran who, during active military, naval, or air service, served in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam era.” When the act was passed, it was forwarded to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs for them to develop the rules and procedures that would be followed to enforce this new law.
            THEY are the ones who came up with the description that “….“service in Vietnam” will be conceded if the records show that the veteran received the Vietnam Service Medal.” The VSM was awarded to anyone who was in the Theater of Combat, which the VA knew well included an outline 80 to 100 nautical miles offshore. In fact, since they were the ones who ‘put it in the regulations,’ that is why the Federal Circuit Court allowed them to change it – because it was their own regulation. They would not have been allowed to change Public Law 102, but they were allowed to change their own wording regarding who would receive benefits and who would not.
            So it is not factual to say that the Agent Orange Act of 1991 ever addressed the condition of Boots-on-Ground or Offshore Waters. That was all done by the VA itself. And it stayed written that way for 11 years.
            I’m sure you will see the important distinction here and will change your comments regarding this matter in all your statements and literature. Let’s just stick to the facts of the matter. I, for one, am still rooting for you.



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