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Give naval veterans the help they need

From the From The Mailbag: A wreck waiting to happen series
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One of the diseases associated with Agent Orange Exposure is prostate cancer and September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

It amazes me on how uninformed I was just as many citizen are today. I believed that our government would actually take care of its veterans before it would take care of another country.

In the case of Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans that is not the case. Our government is actually helping to clean up the Agent Orange (Public Law No: 114-113 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 Page 129 STAT. 2788) we used in the Vietnam “Conflict” (war) before it will take care of some of the veterans who may of been exposed to Agent Orange.

This wasn’t always the case.

In 1991 our Congress passed Public Law No: 102-4 that took care of these veterans and President George H. W. Bush signed the bill. However it seems that the general counsel of the Veterans Administration had a different opinion when they issued VAOPGCPREC 27-97, which stated “Service on a deep-water naval vessel in waters off the shore of the Republic of Vietnam does not constitute service in the Republic of Vietnam.”

Yet the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 32 - National Defense,§ 578.26 set the boundary where you earn a medal if you had service in Vietnam. It is nice to know that the General Counsel of the VA has more power than a Federal regulations and the president that has sign the Bills.

Some people are wondering how can members of the Navy who did not set foot on Vietnamese land get exposed to Agent Orange. The way this happened is by way or water.

As you know, water is very important to humans. It is also very important to ships. A naval ship will take in water from which it is sailing in, which more than like will be salt water and distill it into fresh water that the naval personnel can drink, bathe in, cook with, and many other functions that they may need.

The distillation is supposed to remove chemicals and other items from the water. It turns out that when it comes to Agent Orange it actually enhances the amount of Dioxins instead of removing it.

These veterans have served their country when they were asked to and now their country is turning its back on them. Yes they can receive some health care but they have to pay a share where others with the exact same diseases and illness not only receive the health care they deserve, but they are receiving compensation for suffering these diseases and illnesses.

We are not asking for anything more that we deserve. We did our job and now it’s time for our country to fulfill its obligation to the veterans and provide them with the benefits they rightly deserve.

You may be asking yourself what can you and other Americans do. You can contact your members of Congress and ask them to support The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, HR-299 in the House and S-422 in the Senate.

Mike Yates

Blue Water Navy Awareness

Editor's note: Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, is a co-sponsor of this legislation, along with nearly 300 other members of the House of Representatives. On the Senate side, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is a co-sponsor but, as of Sept. 11, Sen. Kamala Harris was not.

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