HARTFORD – Rep. Yaccarino joined members in the House of Representatives in unanimously passing a resolution in support of Blue Water Navy veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange while serving in the Vietnam War, which would require the President of the United States, Vice President of the United States, and Members of Congress to provide VA benefits to Navy veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange in the coastal waters of Vietnam between 1962 and 1975.
Yaccarino who is the ranking member of the legislature’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee remarked, “Countless men and women who served in Vietnam, namely the Blue Water Navy veterans, were subject to Agent Orange and consequently experienced devastating illnesses. To this day I hear from Vietnam-era veterans who suffer from health implications as a result. I hope that our president, vice president, and federal government will recognize this proposal and help our veterans who served this country so selflessly.”
The group of Blue Water vets — so named to set the sailors apart from their Brown Water Navy counterparts, who patrolled the murky rivers of South Vietnam — has been fighting the VA for more than 10 years. They were initially deemed eligible for compensation under the Agent Orange Act of 1991, only to have the VA change its interpretation a decade later.
A study from 2011 by the National Institute of Medicine found that Blue Water veterans could have been exposed to Agent Orange by the ships’ water distillation system or through the air. The VA estimates about 80,000 blue water veterans are still alive.
Agent Orange contained the toxic chemical commonly known as dioxin, which has had harmful effects on Vietnam veterans. The VA presumes any vet who served on land in Vietnam or on boats in its inland waters was exposed to the herbicide, and it compensates them for, including diabetes, various cancers, Parkinson’s Disease, peripheral neuropathy and a type of heart disease. But the agency has repeatedly argued there’s no scientific justification or legal requirement for covering veterans who served off the coast.
The resolution will be sent to the president, the vice president, the veterans’ affairs chairperson positions in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, and each member of the Connecticut congressional delegation.