The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association (BWNVA) is fighting to get legislation passed to restore medical benefits to Navy, Coast Guard and Fleet Marines who are suffering and dying from diseases and disabilities associated with Agent Orange herbicide use during the Vietnam War. Right now there is a Bill in the Senate, S-1629 (AOEA), and in the House, HR-3612, seeking to help Navy service members who were subjected to Agent Orange gain medical benefits. In the meantime, The BWNVA has found an alternative way to actively advocate for Veterans. By identifying the ships that entered rivers and canals within the geographical boundaries of Vietnam, BWNVA can help Veterans automatically qualify for the medical benefits they should be rightfully entitled to.
“These men are all my Shipmates. They are getting screwed but not kissed. I feel a duty and a responsibility to help them. And I’ll do that in any way I can. If we have to get these men their benefits one at a time, then that’s the way we’ll do it.” Says John Rossie, Executive Director of The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association. “Our non-profit organization has assisted the submission of over 120 ships to the Inland Water Service Project. 70 of our submissions have been approved via the January 2012 VA List of eligible ships.”
According to VA.gov/Agent Orange, the U.S. military sprayed an estimated twenty million gallons of herbicides in Vietnam to remove jungle foliage. Agent Orange is a toxic chemical with strong links to several forms of cancer and numerous disabling diseases. Rossie believes “more than half” of Blue Water Navy Sailors have died as a result of Agent Orange exposure.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association has been helping Veterans obtain benefits that were previously denied. The Blue Water Navy Veterans Association has set up a website, http://bluewaternavy.org/
Helene Vece, CEO of JumpStart Ink & PRSA member