Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

May 26, 2013

Help restore the blue water sailors’ benefits

CUMBERLAND — Shame on the Bush administration, shame on the Obama administration, shame on the Congress and    shame on the Veterans Administration.

On this Memorial Day, the day we honor fallen veterans of all wars, it seems this country has turned its back on a living group of veterans that are dying in alarming numbers from diseases that they have due to being subjected to chemicals while they honorably served in the U.S. military.

They are dying on average of one every eight minutes. That’s 180 per day or 65,700 per year. More in one year than all that were killed during the 10-year Vietnam War.

This group of veterans I am refering to is the blue water Navy Vietnam veterans.

In 1991 the U.S. Congress passed, and the President signed into law the Agent Orange Act. This law covered all military personnel who received the Vietnam Service Medal; you had to be there to receive the medal.

Then in 2002 the Bush administration for whatever reason, probably to help pay for his two wars and the health problems of the new group of veterans coming back, decided to take the blue water Navy Vietnam veterans Agent Orange benefits off of them, instituting the new boots on the ground policy.

That is: you had to physically set foot on on ground in Vietnam. This policy, even though it is contrary to the law that was passed in 1991, is the policy that the Veterans Administration goes by to this day.

 The VA does not even consider ships that were in bays and harbors of Vietnam as being in the Republic of Vietnam. The VA doesn’t even follow international or, for that matter U.S. law, when it comes to Vietnam’s boundaries.

Excluding bays and harbors as not being part of the Republic of Vietnam is like saying New York Harbor, the Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay and such are not within the boarders on the U.S.

 This is the fight we blue water Navy veterans have been having with the VA and our government. Help us, please call the president and tell him to restore the blue water Navy Vietnam veterans Agent Orange benefits back to them.

The White House phone number is 1-202-465-1111. Also there is a Bill in Congress, call your congressman an ask him or her to co-sponsor this Bill H.R. 543 The Blue Water Navy Agent Orange Act of 2013. The phone number for Congress main switchboard is 1-202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Congressmans office .

 Please help us; we are dying in great numbers. Many are homeless and many have no health coverage. To get free health coverage at the VA you have to be at least 30 percent rated disabled. Many have given up.

There is a slogan at the VA, “Deny, deny, untill they die.”

For a complete background on our plight go on any search engine and type in Military-Veterans Advocacy or Blue Water Navy. Everything is explained there in full detail and a lot better than I can.

 Thank you and Happy Memorial Day.

Carl Garlitz

Cumberland

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