TREA has identified the following priorities in the 116th Congress:
1) Implementation of the MISSION ACT (access standards, urgent care and caregivers);
2) Implementation of the Forever GI Bill (delays and being sure veterans receive full payment);
3) Issues related to Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) ) (cost and interoperability with DOD);
4) Implementation of Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) (can VA meet the timelines set forth 125/365 days);
5) Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 (will VA appeal Court ruling or implement?) overwhelming passed the House in 115th Congress, Senator Enzi (WY) and Senator Lee (UT) objected during unanimous consent so Senate did not pass. Already reintroduced in the 116th Congress.
6) Burn Pits Accountability Act (set up registry and process for benefits in the future); and
7) Assure VA is properly staffed with medical clinicians to provide the full line of services for women veterans.
The attachment to this email contains more information on # 1, 4, and 6 on the list above.
Here is the current status of Navy Blue Water # 5.
Congress failed to pass the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. TREA strongly supports the legislation. While the House unanimously passed the bill in June 2018, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), blocked the vote and passage in the Senate. The Senators stated that their opposition was based on lack of funding.
The legislation would have enabled veterans who served in the territorial seas of Vietnam during the Vietnam War to receive expedited consideration for VA benefits if they suffer from any of the diseases the U.S. Government has linked to Agent Orange. The herbicide Agent Orange has been linked to health complications, including non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL), various cancers, Type II Diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Since 2002, “Blue Water” navy veterans have not been entitled to these benefits, despite studies showing they were exposed to toxic amounts of the herbicide.
The same legislation (H.R. 299) is already introduced in the January 2019 new Congress and the House hopes to act swiftly and send to the Senate for action. It is expected that Senators Lee and Enzi will still be opponents. All TREA members, especially those who live in Utah or Wyoming are urged to contact the Senators and urge support for Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act.The urgency for passage is that Blue Water veterans are dying because of the diseases they contracted during service.