VVA Web Weekly – June 5, 2016

In This Issue: June 5, 2016
Toxic Exposure Research Act Bills Placed on House and Senate Calendar for Floor Votes

VVA Applauds Navy Sec. Mabus for Implementing Protections for Sailors and Marines with Invisible Wounds of War

The May/June VVA Veteran Now Available Online

Omaha World Herald Launches Three Days of Agent Orange Coverage

Pentagon Pushes Back on Criticism of Handling of Sexual Assault Cases

VVA Leadership & Education Conference

Toxic Exposure Research Act bills Placed on House, Senate Calendars for Floor VotesH.R.1769, the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015, introduced by Congressmen Benishek (MI-1) and Honda (CA-17)—now with 201 cosponsors–was reported out of the House Veterans Affairs Committee on May 24 and has been placed on House Union Calendar No. 460 for a floor vote.

H.R.1769 bill legislative language has also been added to Title III Matters Relating to Toxic Exposure in H.R.5286, the VA Construction and Lease Authorization, Health, and Benefits Enhancement Act, introduced by Chairman Miller House Veterans Affairs Chairman on May 19, 2016.

S.901, the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015, introduced in the Senate by Senators Jerry Moran (KS) and Richard Blumenthal (CT), now has 48 cosponsors. The bill’s legislative language has been included in the Veterans First Act, S.2921, under Title II, Subtitle I, Research and Toxic Exposure. S.2921 was introduced by Senators Johnny Isakson (GA), Chairman, and Richard Blumenthal (CT), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. On May 12, 2016, the Veterans First Act was voted out of the committee and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar, under General Orders Calendar No. 467, for a floor vote. S.2921 Veterans First Act (Reported in Senate – RS) [S.2921.RS][PDF] S.2921 has 48 Senate cosponsors.

VVA Applauds Navy Sec. Mabus for Implementing Protections for Sailors and Marines with Invisible Wound of War(Washington, D.C.) – “We are encouraged by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus’s recent policy directive aimed at increasing protections for Sailors and Marines suffering as a result of their service—from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, or any other diagnosed mental health condition. This new Navy policy requires that these invisible wounds of war be considered before the veteran is separated from service,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America.

Effective immediately, Sailors and Marines being processed for any type of involuntary administrative separation who have a diagnosed mental health condition may be referred into the Disability Evaluation System. Additionally, if the Sailor or Marine is being administratively processed under provisions that authorize a characterization of service of other than honorable, the case must be referred to the first general officer/flag officer in the chain of command for a final determination. Sailors and Marines with mental health diagnoses who have already been inappropriately discharged can appeal to the Boards for Corrections of Naval Records under the new directive.

Read Complete Press Release…

The May/June Edition of VVA’s Award-winning Publication is Now Available OnlineFeatures in this issue include:

  • Contamination & Betrayal: the Continuing Saga of Camp Lejeune’s Toxic Water Richard Currey, who wrote the original exposé, takes a look at what has—and has not—been done to fix the problem at Camp Lejeune and care for its victims;
  • In Service: A Profile of Ed Chow Xande Anderer profiles Ed Chow, the former VVA vice president who became the Maryland Secretary for Veterans Affairs;
  • Madcap MEDCAP VVA’s Ben Nation writes with humor about a Vietnam War humanitarian effort gone wrong;
  • McNamara’s Morons: Salvaging the Deficient for the War Effort VVA’s Hamilton Gregory writes about McNamara’s 100,000 Project and its disastrous effects on the military and on the disabled men it dragged into service; and
  • Their Spirits Live: Dr. Tran Van Ban & the Veterans Initiative Grant Coates writes about an exchange of information during last year’s VI trip to Vietnam.
Read More…


Omaha World Herald Launches Three Days of Agent Orange Coverage

Inspired by the April 23 Faces of Agent Orange Town Hall in Des Moines, Iowa, Steve Liewer has authored a three-part series on Agent Orange for the Omaha World-Herald. Duane Wiskus’s story is a preview of his coverage, which will appear in the Saturday, June 4, and Sunday, June 5, OWH.

Duane Wiskus remembers seeing Agent Orange being loaded aboard C-123 cargo aircraft at Nha Trang when he was based there during the Vietnam War. “Nobody ever said anything about it,” the Air Force veteran said. “It was just everybody doing their job.” U.S. military cargo planes and helicopters sprayed about 19 million gallons of Agent Orange and other “rainbow” herbicides across South Vietnam between 1962 and 1971 to deny enemy troops the use of crops and the cover of jungle.

Read More…

Pentagon Pushes Back on Criticism of Handling of Sexual Assault Cases

As reported on June 1 by Rebecca Kheel for The Hill, Defense Secretary Ash Carter is pushing back on reports that the Pentagon misled Congress on its handling of sexual assault cases, blaming misunderstandings and a lack of access to some information. “The review that was conducted pursuant to your concerns, which I have enclosed, shows that the central issues raised in the report and article are based on certain misunderstandings of how the military justice system works, lack of access to information contained in the full case files or a disagreement on what ‘counts’ as a sexual assault,” Carter wrote in a letter to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

Read More…

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