Besides the fact that the VA did not appeal the Gray decision and I have been informed that the VA has responded to the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee and it’s not that favorable BUT it may actually give us an advantage. Please make sure you read everything before forming a conclusion. The Senate VA Committee has agreed to postpone the markup until September to allow groups such as Military-Veterans Advocacy, AUSN, FRA, and others time to file a respond and to allow CBO time to complete their markup.
The VA claims that the cost will be 4.4 Billion dollars. That is ridiculous. Previously CBO had estimated $2.74 billion dollars and after meeting with Military-Veterans Advocacy agreed to revise the score based on additional information they were not previously aware of. My understanding is that the Committee will be working with the CBO to make sure the score comes out by the end of August. Now this postponement isn’t really bad news. You have to remember that the Members of Congress and Senators go home for the month of August. So that gives groups such as Military-Veterans Advocacy, AUSN, FRA, and others time to put together a plan of action and a response. We still believe that the CBO score will be around $1 billion dollar.
And it gives us time to plan an "Attack"
Here are some suggestions:
1. We need to pick up our contacting Members of Congress that are not co-sponsoring the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. We need to contact every way possible so they get the point. Phone Calls, Snail mail, E-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. We need to not only contact their Washington DC office but all of their local offices. We need to do this daily, and weekly. We need to put calm and positive pressure on them. We need to make sure they know we are not going to quit. 2. We need to get more people involved with this issue. We have over 400 members in this group. I am sure that everyone has joined other Facebook groups. We ALL need to share the information on our Time Lines and with these groups. It doesn’t matter what the group is. I am sure that members of some of these groups have a family member or friends that served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Most of us go out; if we see a Vietnam Veteran then we talk to them and ask if they know about the Bills. 3. We should all figure a way to start to contact other places to get the word out. Military-Veterans Advocacy will provide us with a Press Release (I requested it) to send to our local media outlets. 4. If you listen to a talk show, you might call in and mention the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. If your local Congress person has not signed on, then mention that.
5. Check to see if your member of Congress or Senator is having a Town Hall meeting and if they are then try to go and if you have friends asked them to go. At this meeting you will need to ask them what their stand is on the Blue Water Navy Awareness Act is. You should also explain to them that you are a Blue Water Navy Veterans suffering from what ever disease. When addressing the issue at Town Hall meetings, please use the following script:
My Name is [State Your Name} I am a Blue Water Navy Veteran and was exposed to Agent Orange through the ship’s drinking water. I am asking for your support of HR 969, (or S 681) the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. (If they have signed on just thank them instead of asking for their support). This bill currently has over 250 co-sponsors in the House and 19 in the Senate. This bill will extend the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to the ships in the bays, harbors and territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam.
Prior to 2002, the Department of Veterans Affairs extended this presumption to those who served offshore. The VA unilaterally revoked this presumption despite the fact that scientific studies have shown that the dioxin co-distilled when ships converted salt water to potable drinking water. Under current law, 174,000 Navy veterans were deprived of earned benefits by a stroke of the pen. Recently a court found the VA’s action, as it applies to bays and harbors, to be arbitrary and capricious. Other litigation is pending.
Tens of thousands of sailors have died or are dying as a result of Agent Orange exposure. Many left the work force early because of disease. Often their spouses also retired prematurely. Some of them have exhausted their life savings on medical expenses. I ask that you support HR 969 (or S 681) and sign on as a co-sponsor to provide these families the benefits that they have earned.
I am sure that there is many more things we can do. If you have any suggestions then make them. We ALL need to work on this, not just a few. We need to be positive, not negative, and as hard as that may be to do.
I am waiting to see what the VA is going to try next so I think it’s very IMPORTANT that we ALL work on Congress to get them to pass these bills.Type your paragraph here.