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Blumenthal 'Blue Water Navy' Bill Would Extend Benefits To Vietnam, Korea Veterans

Jae C. Hong
Iraq war veteran Colt Romberger pauses behind an American flag hanging from his trailer in Santa Clarita, Calif. Romberger’s father, a Vietnam War veteran, died of a brain disease associated with Agent Orange.";

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut wants the Senate to pass legislation that would compensate Vietnam War veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange while serving off the coast of Vietnam. The legislation, co-sponsored by Blumenthal, is called the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act.

Since 2002 the VA has had a policy that presumes that only veterans who served within the land boundaries of Vietnam have health conditions resulting from exposure to Agent Orange. Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said this is wrong.

“This herbicide was a toxin that affected our troops serving off the shores on the coast of Vietnam just as it did the men and women in uniform in Vietnam in-country itself. And they should be compensated equally.”

Blumenthal said his bill also provides compensation for veterans exposed to toxic substances while serving in the Korean Demilitarized Zone between 1967 and 1971.

Blumenthal hopes the Senate passes his bill before the end of the year.

A similar bill has already passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.
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