Is there some good news on the horizon now that our legislators have found a way to pay for it? We are talking about H.R. 299 (Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017), which passed out of House Veterans Affairs Committee on 8 May. There is a long way to go, but in the past this bill has been killed in this committee.
What is not said in the above Stars and Stripes article is that the legislation affects other veterans and their families who suffer from conditions related to toxic exposures as well. Veterans exposed to Agent Orange while serving along the Korean DMZ would have the start date backed up to 1 September 1967 (It is currently 1 April 1968.). In addition, benefits will be expanded to include children born with spina bifida due to a parent’s exposure in Thailand (Currently coverage only exists for the children of Vietnam and Korean DMZ veterans.). It also adds a research provision which might result in establishing additional presumptive conditions. All of this comes from a VFW article.
The downside is these additions may complicate its passage as they add cost. Originally these bills were simply written pieces of legislation which restored what originally had existed for Blue Water Navy veterans. The major obstructions for the past six or seven years having been its potentially high cost and how to pay for it without punishing other veterans. Putting the cost on the back of veterans seems no longer an obstacle, though we are certain the affected veterans will understand. Apparently amendments were made last minute to the bill to add the other subjects above (and are not available for us to read at this time).
As of 10 May 2018