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Vietnam veterans serving on Navy ships to receive benefits for Agent Orange exposure

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WVNS) — A bill to expand coverage for Vietnam veterans is headed to the desk of President Donald Trump. On June 12, 2019, H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 was passed by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate.

The legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA) on Jan. 8, 2019. The bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 14.

A scanned image of the USS Columbus (CG-12) from the on-site archives at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Veteran crewmembers from the USS Columbus (CA-74/CG-12) converged on the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and Nauticus on Thursday, September 27, 2018. About 70 former crew members of the cruiser arrived for their annual reunion. Activities included self-guided tours of the Naval Museum, and several Vietnam Veterans who were aboard the ship received commemorative pins for their service. Many were excited to hear about the Naval Museum’s new exhibit slated to open in May of 2019, which features the US Navy’s contributions during the Vietnam War. Additionally, many former crewmembers ventured aboard the USS Wisconsin (BB-64), which is moored permanently next to the museum as a museum ship. The Wisconsin is one of four Iowa-Class Battleships and serves as a popular venue for military ceremonies. Note: Images submitted to DVIDS (Defense Visual Information Distribution Service) are available for the public to download and utilize without cost. If this image appears on a commercial site that charges a fee to download, you can avert this by going to www.Dvidshub.net, and search for the associated image under our command, Naval History & Heritage Command, where the high resolution image is available without cost. (US Navy Photo by Civilian Public Affairs Officer Max Lonzanida/Released)

According to a release from U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Vietnam Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange have received benefits since 1991. However, those benefits did not extend to those who served on deep-water naval vessels. This act expands the definition of “boots on the ground” in Vietnam to include those who served off the coast of Vietnam who came into contact with herbicides, specifically Agent Orange.

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act also extends benefits to those who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, as well as to children, born to Veterans who served in Thailand, who suffer from Spina Bifida.

“Our Nation’s Veterans have fought bravely overseas for our country and deserve benefits owed to them here at home. These toxins have detrimentally affected the lives of thousands of Blue Water Navy Veterans who, because of this bill, will be able to gain the benefits they deserve. I sincerely thank all of the Veterans who served in Vietnam for their service and dedication to our nation.” said Sen. Manchin.

The bill is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America, Fleet Reserve Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, AMVETS and Military Order of the Purple Heart.

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