FALL 2018

Navy magazine is distributed on Capitol Hill,the Pentagon and naval bases around the world. It provides information that impacts Sailors, their families and the Navy. Navy is published quarterly by the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN).

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LT. MAT THE W A. STROUP 30 Navy | Fall 2018 NAVY TIMES OPED Editor's note: is AUSN op-ed was originally published in Navy Times on Sept. 21, and it was featured as the top story in the Sept. 24 edition of the Early Bird Brief. Since then, it has been shared on social media more than 2,500 times. It is reprinted here with permission. T he Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 (H.R. 299) is currently languishing in the Senate Veterans' A-airs Committee, and as a result, vital funding of bene„ts that impacts the lives and livelihoods of veterans now hangs in the balance. ‡e fact that a funding bill, the Fiscal Year 2019 Mili- tary Construction, Veterans A-airs, and Related Agen- cies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Bill was completed with full bipartisan passage makes spending arguments on the Blue Water Navy legislation unacceptable. ‡is bill — which passed the House of Represen- tatives and would provide medical coverage to sailors who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War — appears to have some skep- tics on the committee. ‡ey seem swayed by the Department of Veterans A-airs' thin arguments that because record-keeping wasn't good during the Vietnam War there's no reason to provide veterans with this necessary treatment. Nearly 90,000 veterans would be covered by H.R. 299, according to Military Times. ‡at's tens of thou- sands of veterans who were once the picture of health who now „nd themselves battling cancer as well as nerve, digestive, skin, and respiratory disorders. To add insult to injury, because the VA and Congress refuse to act, they're getting stuck with paying the bill. Instead of providing adequate care to our veterans who have fought and su-ered for their country, govern- ment o—cials who have the power to provide them with care are needlessly debating a settled issue and placing the onus on veterans to prove that they were harmed. America owes our veterans a debt, and we are failing in our duty to pay that debt. ‡e Senate Veterans' A-airs Committee and VA need to stop putting the burden of proof on our veterans. ‡e people who are questioning what veterans went through weren't there on the ships in Vietnam. ‡ey weren't drinking and brushing their teeth and bathing in water tainted by this terrible chemical. Looking toward the future, the Department of Defense must do its part as well. Poor record-keeping did our veterans a disservice in Vietnam, and the Pentagon should conduct an audit to ensure that their record-keeping today is accurate — particularly when they know they are sending troops into areas a-ected by harmful chemicals. Even though the VA is dragging their heels on this critical issue, Congress can take care of those thousands of veterans now. All that's required is for the Senate Committee on Veterans A-airs to put the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 up for a vote. H.R. 299, the change in policy for Blue Water Navy Vietnam veteran care, has bipartisan support for our Navy veterans and ensures they receive the full extent of care they so deserve. Our legislators need to stop playing politics with funding bills, stop doubting veterans and put these bills to a vote immediately. Retired Navy Rear Adm. Christopher W. Cole is the national executive director of the Association of the United States Navy. His views do not necessarily represent those of the Department of Defense or Navy Times. Do What's Right for Our Blue Water Vietnam Veterans Cmdr. Jake Catalogna, left, from Naval Surface and Mine Warˆghting Develop- ment Center, reaŒrms his oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States during a promotion ceremony at the U.S. Navy/U.S. Coast Guard Vietnam Unit Memorial Monument at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.

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