They served too

Editor:

During the Vietnam War Navy personnel served in the offshore waters on battle stations providing continuous naval gunfire support, search and rescue, and aircraft carrier support and protection.

In January of 1991, the United States Congress, by unanimous consent of both House and Senate, passed a law acknowledging that components of herbicides (mainly Agent Orange) extensively sprayed over the Vietnamese countryside were the cause of major health problems to all of the men who fought in that war.

In 2002, without consulting Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs revoked the eligibility for Vietnam War veterans who did not set foot in Vietnam to receive VA benefits for service-connected disabilities granted by that law. This essentially excluded all Navy personnel who served aboard ships in the offshore waters and territorial seas from benefits for diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange. Over the years science has proved that these Navy personnel were in fact exposed to Agent Orange in numerous ways but the Veterans Administration has thus far refused to reinstate benefits to them.

These offshore veterans are dying in poverty because of medical bills that should have been covered by their VA benefits. They are dying without the dignity and respect they deserve as disabled American veterans. This is an issue the American public needs to know about, so they can demand their congressional representatives support legislation currently before the House (HR-299) and Senate (S-422) that would restore these lost VA benefits.

Gary Rolinson,

Vietnam Veteran, USS Bon Homme Richard CVA-31 (1964-66)

East Palestine

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