Washington, DC—Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced a bicameral resolution in support of our Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans. The resolution expresses the sense of Congress that those who served in the bays, harbors, and territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam during the period from January 9, 1962 – May 7, 1975, should be presumed to have been exposed to the toxin Agent Orange and should be eligible for all related Federal benefits associated with the Agent Orange Act of 1991.
“This resolution is an important step to ensuring our brave Blue Water Vietnam Vets get the care they need and deserve,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “I am a proud cosponsor of Congressman Chris Gibson’s legislation to deliver these benefits, and this resolution continues the push by asking our elected representatives to go on record in support of these heroes. We should never leave behind our veterans who served heroically and I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense measure.”
“I was a cosponsor of the Agent Orange Act of 1991,” Senator Grassley said. “Congress intended that law to apply to all veterans who served in the territory of Vietnam, including the territorial waters. The scientific evidence is compelling that Blue Water Navy veterans were exposed to Agent Orange just like those who served on land. The VA’s current interpretation is wrong and should be changed.”
Under the VA’s current interpretation of the Agent Orange Act of 1991, Vietnam Veterans must have stepped foot on the land of Vietnam or served on its inland waterways anytime between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, to be presumed to have been exposed to herbicides when claiming service-connection for diseases related to Agent Orange exposure. This determination leaves many of our Navy vets unable to claim benefits they need. This resolution would help broaden the presumption of service connection for diseases associated with exposure by veterans to certain herbicide agents while in Vietnam. Including the territorial seas and offshore waters will provide eligibility for care to a larger group of Vietnam Veterans impacted by exposure to such herbicides.
The Senate version of the resolution is S.Con.Res.51.