The subject of the effect of hazardous, toxic exposures of military veterans has milled around in the houses of Congress for far too many years. Involved is our our obligation to our veterans to find the root causes of birth defects, learning disabilities, and cancers afflicting too many of their children and grandchildren. Therefore, “mill around mill” is not a Congressional virtue on such a topic.
Unfortunately, for years certain public officials have insisted and held sway on the issue without sufficient research to back their claim. Their claim seems to revolve around the assertion that male veterans exposed to Agent Orange can not transmit genetic defects to their children. While the VA has made provision for the children of Vietnam War Vietnam women veterans for certain diagnoses (without acknowledging the effects of Agent Orange, we might add), it has made absolutely none for the children of its male veterans. In our opinion that is an awkwardly strange position and a discriminatory one.
What is worse, there is reason to believe the same situation is now occurring with the latest generations of war veterans. Proper research is all the more needed to settle the matter fairly.
To date, the House proposal (HR 1769) is scheduled for floor debate (It is on the Union Calendar as of late May). Both our representatives, Dent and Cartwright are co-sponsors. The Senate’s version (a modified version of S. 901, the companion bill to HR 1769) is now contained in Section I of S. 2921 (The Veterans First Act), an omnibus bill. It also awaits action on the floor. In this instance, our Senator Casey is a co-sponsor of the bill. Nothing has been heard from our Senator Toomey, though he was ostensibly in support of the provision (but maybe not the rest of the bill).
Since there are differences between the house and senate versions on this issue, it may be necessary to resolve these differences in conference, but that is further down the road. At this moment, the important thing is to consider calling your senators this week and asking they vote for Senate Bill 2921.
As the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) has stated, “Passage and enactment of S.2921 will begin to address the legacy of toxic exposures on the innocent victims and enhance benefits and services to those who answered our nation’s call in defense of our Constitution, our Nation’s veterans.” Veterans organizations are urging all to contact their legislators, for S 2921 tackles a number of important issues besides toxic hazard exposure (we’ll report later on these over time).
How do you do this?
- Call 202-224-3121.
- Give the operator your state or zip code. The operator will then connect you to the senator’s office.
- Ask for the Legislative Assistant.
- Then state you are calling as a constituent and asking their support of Senate Bill 2921.
Otherwise, try using VVA’s capwiz site for alternative methods (email or letter).
19 June 2016