‘Blue Water’ veteran benefits one of 18 bills approved

Lats week, a Congressional committee approved a variety of legislation for veterans that included bills to extend benefits to “Blue Water” Navy veterans and create a fourth administration within the Department of Veteran Affairs.

According to an article published by ConnectingVetsRadio.com, the committee Chairman Mark Takano “launched the meeting by highlighting the first bill on the agenda, which was also the first bill he filed this session — the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, this session’s version of a bill that passed the House unanimously last year but stalled in the Senate. Approving the bill would “finally right an incredible injustice” that “unfairly denied benefits” to veterans for more than 40 years, Takano said at the hearing. “These veterans have waited far too long … If I have to stand in the Senate gallery every day until this bill is passed, I will.” Takano said he planned to work with Speaker Nancy Pelosi to get the bill to a vote before Memorial Day.”

This bill is aimed at reversing a 1997 VA decision that denied that Blue Water veterans were ever exposed to Agent Orange while serving offshore of Vietnam. The bill would instead acknowledge veterans exposure to Agent Orange and therefore extend VA benefits to tens of thousands of veterans.

The article continued by saying, “The bill doesn’t just cover Blue Water Vietnam veterans, though. It also extends benefits to veterans who served near the demilitarized zone on the Korean Peninsula beginning in September 1967 and would require the VA to identify American military bases in Thailand where Agent Orange was used.

Other bills approved at the hearing and sent to the House for a vote include The FIGHT Veterans Suicide Act, the VET OPP Act, The Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators ActThe Whole Veteran Act, and the Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William Bill Mulder Transition Improvement Act.

To learn more about the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act and other bills discussed at last week’s hearing, click here.