If anyone in Washington has common sense, the incident should bring an end to the long and contentious war by the Department of Veterans Affairs against sailors of the Vietnam War who were exposed to Agent Orange.
Instead, senior bureaucrats in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs seem relentlessly determined to prevent Vietnam War Navy veterans from receiving benefits that are automatically granted to all other Vietnam veterans. It’s a disgraceful nightmare not only to these veterans, but in many cases their families with only the widows left to fend for themselves as their husbands have paid the ultimate price for serving their country.
After years of denial, the government finally acknowledged the disabilities likely caused by Agent Orange with the passage of the Agent Orange Act of 1991. The legislation was clear: Anyone who served, whether on land or sea, was presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. Veterans simply needed to submit their diagnosis and proof of Vietnam service on their Department of Defense Form 214. To this day, for veterans of the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, the process remains clear and fast. But shamefully, that is not the way it has worked for Navy veterans ever since the Bush Administration took office.