mT. dIABLO Post 246

New Legislation Would Add 9 More Diseases to Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions List
Lawmakers have introduced a bill that would add nine more diseases to the list of conditions that the government presumes the herbicide Agent Orange causes. The Keeping Our Promises Act would add prostate cancer, bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, hypertension, stroke, early-onset peripheral neuropathy, AL amyoloidosis, ischemic heart disease and Parkinson-like syndromes to the list, according to a Stars and Stripes report. Posted

Congress has passed and the White House has signed the Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service Act of 2019 – The LEGION Act – which expands definition of war eras to include all who served since Dec. 7, 1941.  The LEGION Act offers American Legion membership eligibility to any U.S. military veteran who served at least one day of active military duty since Dec. 7, 1941 and was honorably discharged or is serving now. The act also affects membership in the American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion, expanding eligibility for those groups, as well.  Posted 20 August 2019

Major Blue Water Navy Push Coming Soon: Report
Lawmakers are getting ready to make a big push to settle the Blue Water Navy-Agent Orange issue once and for all in the wake of the Procopio decision earlier this year. Military Times reports that Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Steve Daines (Mont.) have "announced plans to reinforce that ruling and establish a permanent fix for those veterans," and the chairman and ranking member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee have introduced similar plans, with the House panel preparing for an "expansive" hearing on the topic in early May. The Department of Justice has until the end of the month to appeal Procopio, but reports indicate that Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie has advised against it.

Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act (4 JUN 2019)
Senator Tina Smith (MN) and Representative Grace Meng (NY), introduced companion bills, S.555 and H.R. 1377, the Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act.
The bill is named after the late Hawaii Congressman Mark Takai, a veteran of the U.S. Army and Hawaii Army National Guard who passed away in 2016 and was the original sponsor of the bill in the House of Representatives.
From 1951 to 1959, the United States conducted forty three nuclear tests, resulting in more than 30 megatons of TNT nuclear testing on the Enewetak Atoll.  In March 1977, the United States began decontamination of Enewetak and built a concrete dome to deposit radioactive soil and debris.  Approximately 6,000 military service members of the United States Department of Defense (DOD) participated in the cleanup project.  The decontamination efforts concluded in 1980. 
VA only recognizes those veterans who participated in nuclear testing on Enewetak Atoll from 1951 to 1959 as participating in a radiation risk activity.  Current statutes regarding presumptive service connection for radiation exposure defines a radiation-exposed veteran as a veteran that, while on active duty, participated in a radiation risk activity.
S.555 and H.R.1377 will expand recognized radiation risk activities to include the cleanup of Enewetak Atoll from January 1, 1977, to December 31, 1980.  These bills will provide presumptive exposure to thousands of veterans who participated in the testing and clean-up and who were previously excluded as radiation exposed veterans.
DAV supports this legislation as it is in concert with DAV Resolution No. 090.  Please use the prepared electronic letter or draft your own to urge your Senators and Representative to support and cosponsor S.555 and H.R.1377. Your commitment and advocacy help make DAV a highly influential and effective organization in Washington.  Thank you for all you do for America's veterans and their families. 
Posted 4 June 2019

Senate Unanimously Passes Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act
The Senate has unanimously passed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, meaning the bill is now headed to the president's desk to be signed into law. This is a tremendous development for our veterans, and one we were not able to accomplish last year: the bill passed the House but never made it out of committee in the Senate. Now, the bill has passed both the House and the Senate - unanimously in both cases.  Click here to read more.

New Bill Would Provide Benefits To Veterans Exposed To PFAS
There is a new bill that would provide medical benefits to veterans who were stationed at military installations where they were exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and this week met with other veterans service organizations on the subject. HR 2102 would "amend title 38, United States Code, to furnish hospital care and medical services to veterans and dependents who were stationed at military installations at which the veterans and dependents were exposed to [PFAS], to provide for a presumption of service connection for certain veterans who were stationed at military installations at which the veterans were exposed to such substances, and for other purposes." The bill was introduced by Rep. Daniel Kildee (Mich.) on April 4 and was referred to the House Veterans Affairs subcommittee on health on April 29.

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