VFW has "absolutely no sympathy" for VA on Blue Water Navy issue

Eric Dehm
September 14, 2018 - 12:59 pm

Naval History and Heritage Command)

At the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) recent national legislative conference the Blue Water Navy agent orange issue was front and center. The VFW's belief is simple and is held by nearly every VSO: Sailors off the coast affected by Agent Orange exposure during Vietnam should receive the same benefits as their boots on the ground counterparts. 

H.R. 299 is the legislation that would address this issue, and has made it through the House of Representatives unanimously, and according to VFW Director of National Legislative Services Carlos Fuentes it looks to have a good shot at making it through the Senate before too long.

H.R. 299 does have a major detractor in the Department of Veterans Affairs who say the bill would cost too much and overtax their systems. 

"First and foremost, we have absolutely no sympathy for VA saying that this will give them more work," Fuentes said during an appearance on the Morning Briefing radio show. "That's what they get paid to do. If they need more resources then we're happy to push congress to get them more resources."

Along with the complaints listed by the VA, Fuentes says there was "misleading" information in the letter released by the department, including claims that money currently used for VA home loans would be pulled to be used to address the Blue Water Navy issue. All of this coupled with the VA's continuing to "deny the science" is something the VFW finds completely unacceptable, particularly considering how little time is left to make things right. 

"The fact is a lot of these folks are starting to die," Fuentes said . "The youngest of Vietnam vets is more than 60 years old now. We can continue to research it for the next 10 years but what's gonna happen is you'll end up seeing these conditions are more prevalent among blue water navy vets, and then we've made them wait another 10 years just to prove what we're saying now."

You can hear the full interview with Carlos Fuentes below. Click Play to stream now, click Share and select Download to listen later. 

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