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.
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.