Ranking Member Walz Applauds House Passage of Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-MN) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017. The bill grew out of legislation Ranking Member Walz championed in previous Congresses.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act would finally grant presumptive Agent Orange exposure status to U.S. service members who served off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. This would enable eligible veterans to receive expedited consideration for Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits if they suffer from any of the diseases the U.S. government has linked to Agent Orange. This measure has received wide-ranging support from veterans’ organizations.
“One of my highest priorities since coming to Congress has been to expand benefits to Blue Water Navy veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War,” said Rep. Walz. “As one of the four members who introduced the first Blue Water Navy Act back in 2011, I am extremely proud to see today’s legislation pass the House.”
“This legislation serves as an example of the great things Democrats and Republicans can accomplish when they work together on a bipartisan basis with veterans in the community. For far too long, our nation failed to uphold its moral obligation to help Blue Water Navy veterans receive the benefits they deserve. This is not something we can pass off or ignore, which is why I urge the bill’s swift passage in the Senate and call on President Trump to sign the legislation into law without delay.
“While I am proud we are one step closer to finally fixing this broken promise, I know passing the Blue Water Navy Act is only the beginning in the fight to ensure all veterans suffering from toxic exposures receive the benefits they deserve. For over 40 years these veterans suffered, and yet Congress failed to act. While we must be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, we must also keep the commitments we’ve made to those who’ve served and sacrificed in uniform. That is why we cannot allow this to happen to generation after generation. The House passed this bill today, but we will continue to work on radiation, chemical, and burn pit exposures. Our nation must exhaust every effort to identify, prevent, treat, and heal the injuries, illnesses, and wounds our military service personnel received during their service.”