By John J. Bury – US Navy, retired, Vietnam War veteran
The 113th Congress is now seated. The 112th Congress failed to recognize veterans of the Vietnam War by restoring the Agent Orange Equity Act, which did not make it out of committee. These Bills (House Bill HR-3612 and Senate Bill S.1629) probably are dead and must be reintroduced.
Only 126 representatives co-sponsored the House bill and only 14 senators co-sponsored the Senate Bill. What does this say about the legislators who ignored the bills?
Veterans of the Vietnam War are low priority. We have become a liability for budget dollars, and our quality of life means little to our Congress. What is the life of a veteran who honorably served country and flag worth? Freedom is not free.
Every day, another veteran falls ill to a disease attributed to the deadly herbicide agent orange. Every week 400 to 500 sick Vietnam veterans die. The legacy we leave behind is our government does not care.
Advocates for Vietnam veterans must start over to convince our legislators to do what is right. Volunteers help sick veterans gather evidence required by Veterans Affairs for submission of claims, we do the legwork, we meet with members of Congress in support of veterans. Our only reward is knowing we helped a veteran. What we do is not enough unless we have support from Congress, We ask all Americans to urge our legislators to pass laws to provide equitable VA health care and compensation for sick Vietnam veterans for better quality of life.