American Legion joins Rep. Josh Harder, VSOs in fight for Agent Orange benefits
(File photo)

American Legion joins Rep. Josh Harder, VSOs in fight for Agent Orange benefits

American Legion Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission Chairman Ralph Bozella joined U.S. Rep. Josh Harder and representatives from other veterans service organizations via conference call Aug. 20 in announcing the launch of an effort to expand coverage for veterans exposed to Agent Orange but unable to access support from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Earlier this year, Harder introduced The Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act. The legislation would ensure Vietnam veterans with bladder cancer, certain thyroid problems and Parkinson’s-like symptoms are able to access care through VA. To become law, the amendment must now be included in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act.

“On behalf of American Legion National Commander James W. ‘Bill’ Oxford, I am pleased to announce The American Legion supports U.S. Rep. Josh Harder’s effort to include three new Agent Orange presumptive diseases in the National Defense Authorization Act,” Bozella said during the call. “The American Legion has a rich and proud history of participating in and supporting Vietnam veterans’ fight for Agent Orange-related benefits.

“In 1983, The American Legion sponsored an independent study by Columbia University that established the effects of exposure to Agent Orange on Vietnam War veterans. Congress received the results of this study in 1989. Since then, the Department of Veterans Affairs has recognized 14 diseases related to exposure from Agent Orange and other herbicides.”

Bozella said now is the time for VA to add the three new diseases listed in the legislation to the Agent Orange presumptive list and – noting similar legislation already has passed in the U.S. Senate – urged American Legion membership “to contact your U.S. representatives and ask each one to support this initiative, which will prove we are still welcoming home our Vietnam veterans.”

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