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Inclue Agent Orange in Current National Defense Act

safety, veteran, political, family

The Honorable Herbert H. Kohl
United States Senate
330 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4903

Re: NDAA 2010 - Include Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009

Dear Senator Kohl:

I strongly urge you to seek inclusion of the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009, (HR 2254) into the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act.

This legislation would expand the legal presumption of exposure to Agent Orange for veterans who served in the vicinity of Viet Nam.

Before 2002, it did not matter where a veteran served in the Vietnam War. If disabled due to the exposure to the terrible poisons in the air and waterways, VA would pay disability compensation. In February 2002, Congress decided to 'save our taxpayers money' and ordered VA to implement a 'foot on the ground' policy. After this policy revision, only those who actually set foot on the ground in Vietnam could be compensated for medical conditions resulting from exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. Those serving in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos and the China Sea became ineligible for compensation even though they were contaminated by these very same toxins as those who served on the ground, in Vietnam itself.

Thus, 38 US Code, Section 1116, defines a Viet Nam veteran as "a veteran who, during active military, naval, or air service, served in the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975." The Department of Veterans Affairs follows the Congressional mandate of "boots on the ground" which excludes most Navy and Air Force personnel who have Agent Orange related issues but who cannot prove "boots on the ground."

Parenthetically, it must be noted that ships at sea, habitually prefer to draw in water from coastal areas than open ocean water because of the lower salinity. This water is then further desalinized for cooking, drinking and bathing. Vietnamese coastal waters were known to be contaminated with Agent Orange due to run off from the land.

HR 2254 would clarify and correct this section by redefining a Viet Nam veteran as one who during active military, naval, or air service (a) served in the Republic of Vietnam (including the inland waterways, ports, and harbors of such Republic, the waters offshore of such Republic, and the airspace above such Republic) during the period January 9, 1962 - May 7, 1975; (b) served in Johnston Island during the period April 1, 1972 - September 30, 1977; or (c) received the Vietnam Service Medal or the Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Again, please do all within your influence and powers of moral suasion to have this legislation included in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act that will soon be negotiated in Joint Committee.

Respectfully,

Don  “Boots” Jensen
Sergeant USMC 1973-1979

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