Dear American Legion Family and Friends,
People of my generation understand the cost of exposure to dangerous substances. Thousands died because of Agent Orange-related illnesses. Instead of bullets, bombs and shrapnel, they endured years of chemotherapy, radiation and oxygen tanks.
Yet, it was The American Legion that proved to be the greatest advocate for those Vietnam veterans.
Right now, the U.S. Senate can distinguish itself as a powerful ally to the current generation of veterans and thousands of others whose exposure to toxic contaminants have gone unrecognized for years, and in some cases, decades.
To its great credit, the House of Representatives passed the Honoring Our PACT Act. Drafted by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano, D- Calif., it is the most comprehensive toxic exposure bill to ever pass Congress.
It will provide health care for more than 3.5 million veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other contaminants during the Gulf War, the War on Terrorism, atomic testing and clean-up operations. Many were exposed to environmental hazards just by being stationed in certain areas over documented times.
The PACT Act also gives overdue recognition to veterans exposed to Agent Orange in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. The bill will establish presumptions of service connection for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers linked to burn pits and other hazards.
We hear a lot about cost from Washington these days. But what is a life worth? What do you tell a parent, spouse or a child about fiscal budgets when their loved one is gone?
We have spent trillions rebuilding other countries from the ravages of war. These men and women, however, are also a cost of war and those bills must be paid!
I am also asking you to help spread this message. I don’t care if your senators are Republican, Democratic or Independent. Nobody should oppose this bill. Please let your senators know that you support the Honoring Our PACT Act and urge them to as well by sending them a message at this link.
Memorial Day is the perfect time to deliver the Honoring Our PACT Act for the president’s signature. We know the military is a tight-knit brotherhood and sisterhood. The fallen heroes who we honor on Memorial Day would want us to care for their sick comrades.
For God and Country,
Paul E. Dillard