Senator Blumenthal, CVLC Interim Director Cindy Johnson, Garry Monk of the National Veterans Council for Legal Redress and other veteran organizations highlight the needs of “Blue Water” Vietnam Veterans on Veterans Day.
On behalf of CVLC’s clients, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center lends it’s wholehearted support to this necessary and important law. A significant part of CVLC’s work involves representing veterans living in poverty who are fighting to have their disabilities recognized as service-connected by the Veterans Benefits Administration. Service connection can mean the difference between homelessness and housing stability; between poverty and income security.
CVLC serves many veterans living in poverty who suffer from the debilitating effects of toxic exposures during their service. The disabilities caused by Agent Orange comprise a list of devastating illnesses: Parkinson’s Disease, Prostate Cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s Disease, Multiple Myeloma – the list goes on.
If you suffer from one of these disabilities and served “boots on the ground”, then your service connection case is open-and-shut. But for our Blue Water veterans – those valiant and courageous veterans who served aboard ships during the Vietnam War – there is no such presumption under the current law. Even though the Blue Water veterans were exposed to the same toxins – in the air they breathed, the water they drank, and the equipment they used – the current law makes it very difficult to get these veterans the compensation they deserve.
The acts co-sponsored by Senator Blumenthal would remedy this profound unfairness. Time is running out for many of these disabled veterans. It is past time for our Blue Water Veterans and our veterans who served in the Korean DMZ to get the protections they deserve. This law would do just that.