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From Chuck Weber, your Veteran Service Officer...

Vietnam Blue Water Veterans Set Adrift
Sen. Mike Lee’s Vote Denies VA Health Benefits


Veterans and advocates will have to start from scratch next year to expand VA benefits to "Blue Water Navy" veterans after several last-minute efforts failed in the Senate.  Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) requested the Blue Water Navy Veterans Act of 2018 be given unanimous consent to approve the legislation, meaning the bill would be on its way to the White House if no senator objected.  Only Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) opposed the call for unanimously passing the bill through the Senate.


Non-veteran Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) will be up for reelection in 2023.  Will he get your vote?


          The House unanimously approved the bill (382- 0) in June, but it still needed to be passed by the Senate before being sent to the White House before being signed into law. With the Congress adjourning on 31 Dec., the next Congress will have to re-introduce the bill in 2019, starting all over.  Some 90,000 "Blue Water Navy" Vietnam veterans stood to benefit from the bill, which would have brought sailors who served in ships off the coast of Vietnam in line with those who served on the ground.


     But the same is not true for sailors who didn't step foot on land. Nevertheless, many claim they were exposed to Agent Orange, and this bill would have unlocked crucial benefits many say they need and deserve.  Blumenthal blasted Lee saying they would likely be back next session to take up the issue.  "And the cost to our conscience, if not our budget, will rise in the meantime," he said. "These men are dying now, and they are being denied the benefits they deserve." “We don’t need more sick veterans to prove sufficient evidence,” said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence.   “Agent Orange made Vietnam veterans sick, and science agrees that there isn’t any reason to treat so-called Blue Water Navy veterans any different than their peers who served ashore or on the inland waterways of Vietnam."


   In summary, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill, tIhe Senate wanted to unanimously pass the bill and the President had committed to sign the bill and yet one man, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, himself a non-veteran, saw fit to deprive tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans their just benefits.  And that is what is wrong with our government. The score was 535 to 1 and yet we lost. Enough said.


 [Consolidated, updated and edited from:  ConnectingVets.com  | Matt Saintsing | December, 2018]


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