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The Veterans Administration and Dirty Tricks
The VA Plays By It's Own Rules,Or What You Want Is Not Always What You Get
By: The BWNVVA
By the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association, Ray Melninkaitis, Director of Corporate Resources
So now in the 114th Congress we have HR 969 and S 681: “The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2015”. As of this writing, there are 264 Co-sponsors (60%) in the House (HR 969) and 20 Co-sponsors in the Senate (S 681). It looks pretty good for passage if it ever gets out of Committee. So let’s think about the bright side and let’s say it passes with the present language. Hurrah! a final victory for those Sailors and Marines who have been denied the right of presumption to herbicide exposure since 2002.
But wait a minute, if the present language remains as is, the VA has many little dirty tricks it can play. If not covered by the very precise language that spells out the intent of these bills, we could find ourselves in a stalemate. This is what happened in 1991 when the original Agent Orange Act was passed overwhelmingly. The Act did not spell out that all veterans in the theater of combat would be covered by this bill. That left the interpretation of who would be covered and how up to the Veterans Administration. So in 2002, for reasons not totally clear, the VA reclassified those in the Blue Water Navy as not serving “in Vietnam,” not being Vietnam War veterans and denied them presumptive exposure benefits for all health care and compensation. Of course, being the nice guys that they are, they did say these Veterans would be eligible for medical coverage and compensation, if they could prove direct exposure to the chemicals, which is literally impossible to do. So the web of tricks and public relations gimmicks began, set to shed as a positive light on the VA and to cover up a very immoral ruling. And throughout the years, the web became so complex that the VA actually believed they did the right thing, and refused to even consider rescinding their decision.
The VA has shown reluctance to comply with bills and criticisms initiated by Congress. They continually play the interpretation game (using their interpretation)
Congress needs to ensure these tricks are not given a chance to happen and to pass this legislation without delay. We must make clear the intent of this legislation and that resistance, of any kind, to implementation will not be tolerated. Despite all the self-praise because of improvements the VA claims, the old culture of “we can do no wrong” still remains.