Hr 115 (lsb 6177yh (6) 85) house resolution n

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HR 115 (LSB 6177YH (6) 85)


A Resolution urging Congress to restore the presumption of service connection for Agent Orange exposure for Vietnam veterans who served in the waters and airspace defined by the Vietnam combat zone.

   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, with such herbicides containing 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, Pub. L. No. 102-4, to address the plight of veterans exposed to herbicides while serving in the Republic of Vietnam and 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; and

   WHEREAS, 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 disease, multiple myeloma, peripheral neuropathy, AL amyloidosis respiratory cancers, and soft tissue sarcomas, and others yet to be identified; and

   WHEREAS, since 2001, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has enforced a policy that 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 many thousands of United States Navy, Marine, and Air Force veterans to pursue their claims for benefits; and

   WHEREAS, the 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 also washed into streams and rivers draining into the South China Sea; and

   WHEREAS, United States Navy veterans have been excluded ever since 2001, even though Agent Orange has been verified, through various studies and reports, as a wide spreading chemical that was able to reach Navy ships through air and waterborne distribution routes and that Navy ships positioned off the Vietnamese shore routinely distilled seawater to obtain potable water; and

   WHEREAS, a December 2002 report by the Australian Department of Veterans Affairs found that the distillation process, rather than removing toxins, in fact concentrated dioxin in water used for drinking, cooking, and washing; and

   WHEREAS, that report was conducted after the Australian Department of Veterans Affairs 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 Australian military; and

   WHEREAS, when the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied specific cancers among Vietnam veterans, they found a higher risk of certain cancers among United States Navy veterans; and

   WHEREAS, herbicides containing tetrachlorodibenzodioxin did not discriminate between soldiers on the ground and sailors on ships offshore; and

   WHEREAS, more than 30 veterans service organizations support federal legislation titled the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013, H.R. 543; and

   WHEREAS, by not passing H.R. 543, a precedent could be set to selectively provide certain groups of military veterans with exposure-related medical care while denying other groups such care without any consistent financial or scientific reasoning; and

   WHEREAS, when the federal Agent Orange Act of 1991 was passed 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, and since that time 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 federal Agent Orange Act under the presumption that herbicide exposure in the Republic of Vietnam included the country’s inland waterways, offshore waters, and airspace, with these areas encompassing a part of the entire combat zone; NOW THEREFORE,
   BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, That the Iowa House of Representatives hereby respectfully urges the United States Congress to restore the presumption of a service connection for Agent Orange exposure for United States veterans who served in the waters defined by the Vietnam combat zone, and in the airspace over the Vietnam combat zone; and
   BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives shall transmit certified copies of this resolution to the President of the United States, to the President and Secretary of the United States Senate, the Speaker and Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, and each member of the Iowa congressional delegation with the request that this resolution be officially entered into the Congressional Record as a memorial to the United States Congress of the urgency of responding to the medical care needs of Vietnam veterans.

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