House Approves James Resolution Seeking to Help Navy and Air Force Veterans of Vietnam Conflict
4/8/2014
HARRISBURG – U.S. Navy and Air Force veterans who served during the Vietnam conflict and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides would benefit from a resolution introduced by Rep. Lee James (R-Venango) that was approved on Tuesday by the state House.

“America has a responsibility to take care of its veterans regardless of whether they served in the Army, Navy or Air Force,” said James, who served in the Navy from 1966-72.

The federal government has acknowledged that Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides may develop disabilities as a result of their military service. Veterans exposed to these chemicals may develop illnesses such as Type II diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease or various forms of cancer.

If a Vietnam veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange or a similar herbicide develops one of these illnesses, federal policy presumes the disease is linked to the veteran’s service and exposure to the substance. This presumption has provided Vietnam veterans with access to disability compensation and medical care.

The policy currently only applies to Vietnam veterans who can prove they served on the ground during the conflict. Navy and Air Force veterans who served on warships along the Vietnamese coastline often were exposed to the airborne toxins and seawater contaminated with the chemicals was distilled and consumed by those serving on the ships.

James’ resolution would urge Congress to pass and the president to sign legislation providing the same presumption for Navy and Air Force veterans who served during the Vietnam Conflict and were exposed to Agent Orange or similar chemicals.

“Any veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange or a similar concoction should receive the help they deserve,” James said. “Agent Orange didn’t distinguish between soldiers who stepped foot on Vietnamese soil and those who served on a warship along the coastline. Our federal government shouldn’t either.”

Copies of James’ House Resolution 663 will be forwarded to the president, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the president of the U.S. Senate and all members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation.

If the federal government acts upon James’ proposal, U.S. Navy and Air Force veterans who served on the inland waterways, territorial waterways and in the airspace of Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia could receive medical care and disability compensation that has thus far been denied to them. 

Representative Lee James
64th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Dan Massing
717.772.9845
dmassing@pahousegop.com  
RepJames.com / Facebook.com/RepLeeJames
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