A resolution has been proposed by State Rep. Theresa Conroy and State Sen. Catherine Osten to support the “Vietnam Blue Water Navy” in its fight to regain health and compensation benefits unjustly stripped from them in 2002.
On Feb. 5 the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs once again betrayed the Vietnam Blue Water Veterans by declaring all Vietnamese bays and harbors offshore waters. That means that sailors who served in those ports which previously were considered inland waters will no longer be presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. In essence they have decided to possibly kill off another 10,000 Vietnam veterans.
The Vietnam Blue Water Navy had presumptive rights to receive care and benefits for Agent Orange-related illnesses until 2002 when the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs decided that Navy veterans were not Vietnam War Veterans. All care and benefits for these veterans who suffer from the effects of herbicide (Agent Orange) were denied by the VA.
Once passed, Connecticut will be joining 13 other States who have taken action to urge Congress to restore “a service connection for Agent Orange exposure to United States [Vietnam] Veterans who served on the inland waterways, in the territorial waters, and in the airspace over the combat zone.”
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Raymond Melninkaitis is director of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association in Beacon Falls.