Blue-water Navy Bill To Face House Vote on Monday

Blue-water Navy Bill To Face House Vote on Monday

June 22, 2018

MOAA and several other veterans service organizations have worked diligently with the House Veterans Affairs Committee to get a bill introduced that would grant the presumption of herbicide exposure to blue-water Navy veterans. The Committee voted May 8 to advance the bill to the full House for a vote. For a month now, the bill has seen no movement in the House - until now. The full House will consider the measure on Monday.

H.R. 299 would grant a presumption of herbicide exposure to any veteran who served in the territorial seas off the coast of South Vietnam, as well as the bays and harbors. The bill's report language goes on to explain that “because [blue-water Navy] veterans have generally been unable to successfully apply for benefits for conditions that may have been caused by service in Vietnam due to the lack of a presumption of exposure,” the bill would “provide retroactive benefits for veterans who were denied benefits between September 1, 1985, and January 1, 2019.”

Further, the bill would expand the presumption of exposure to those who served on or near the Korean DMZ to Sept. 1, 1967 (instead of April 1, 1968) through Aug. 31, 1971. For those who served in Thailand, the bill requires the VA to submit a report to Congress identifying the U.S. military installations located in Thailand where an herbicide agent was actively used and identify the period of such use.

Additionally, for veterans of the Gulf War era, the bill would require the VA to submit to Congress an update on the findings of the VA's Follow-up Study of a National Cohort of Gulf War and Gulf War Era Veterans. This study examines the health status of veterans who served in the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991 and the health of veterans who served in other areas during the same period.

While this bill did not contain everything MOAA has been working towards regarding toxic exposures and how DoD and VA track, manage, and study them, it addressed a long outstanding issue that could finally be resolved.