HOW SWEET IT IS!
BIG VICTORY FOR NAVY’S BLUE-WATER VIETNAM WAR VETS WHEN U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PASSES BILL RESTORING PRESUMPTION OF AGENT ORANGE (DIOXIN) EXPOSURE TO SAILORS LONG DENIED COMPENSATION
OUR LONGTIME CHIEF LEGAL CONSUL (RETIRED NAVY COMMANDER JOHN “BULLDOG” WELLS) LED THE FIGHT FOR JUSTICE OVER MANY YEARS
SENATE EXPECTED TO FOLLOW SUIT LIKE THE HOUSE AND THE BILL WILL SOON BE SIGNED BY PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP
(c) 2018 MilitaryCorruption.com
It was a long time coming, but the U.S. House of Representatives has finally passed the BLUE WATER NAVY VIETNAM VETERANS ACT of 2017 – H.R. 299, restoring the presumption that sailors who served on ships off the coastline, or in the bays, harbors and territorial seas of South Vietnam during the war, were indeed exposed to the deadly Agent Orange poison, used extensively over that country in the 1960’s.
Our own chief legal consul, retired Navy CDR John “Bulldog” Wells, skillfully steered the legislation through the halls of Congress for the past seven years. We are very proud of him and his name should be written down in the history books as the former “three-striper” Naval officer and attorney who tenaciously fought to bring justice to thousands of former sailors suffering from the deadly spray.
Wells, the Louisiana-based executive director of Military Veterans Advocacy, first introduced the bill back in 2011. It was bottled up in Congressional committees several times, but the 22-year Surface Warfare Officer (he earned his law degree after retiring from the military) never gave up.
The original presumption of exposure was afforded by the AGENT ORANGE ACT of 1991, but was stripped from those who had served offshore by the then-secretary of Veterans Affairs. Hydrological and other studies showed that Agent Orange Dioxin made it way into the ship filtration systems, causing significant exposure to those serving aboard the surface craft.
CONGRESSMAN PHIL ROE PRAISED
Wells praised House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee for pushing the bill. “Chairman Roe became convinced of the necessity for this bill,” Wells told MilitaryCorruption.com. “I met with him informally on several occasions and he made this legislation a priority. The Bill was reported favorably by a unanimous vote of the House Veterans Affairs Committee on May 8, 2018.”
“There is no doubt that without the strong efforts of Chairman Roe, the bill would not have passed the House,” Wells continued. “Despite significant bi-partisan support, the cost of this correction of injustice kept the legislation bottled up in Committee.”
“The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has projected the final cost of the bill at $894 million over a 10-year period,” “Bulldog” said. “It is being funded by small increases in the V.A. home loan guarantee fees paid by non-disabled veterans. We are honored that the bill had over 330 co-sponsors in the House.”
SUSIE BELANGER KEY SUPPORTER
Wells also singled out Mrs. Susie Belanger of Gansevoort, New York for the “tremendous help she gave our grassroots movement” to bolster support. “Susie has been the heart and soul of our effort. Her husband was initially denied benefits, although that decision was later reversed when he proved that he had actually touched land in Vietnam, she was horrified that so many other sailors were being denied justice.”
“Susie established an e-mail network that later expanded to social media,” Wells continued. “She drafted me,” he said. “Without her, MILITARY VETERANS ADVOCACY would not exist and there would have been no Blue Water Navy bill in the first place. She is a great lady who has proven how much one determined person can change things for the better.”
The bill now goes to the Senate where Wells anticipates little opposition. He says the White House has signaled an intent to promptly sign the bill once it is passed. Once again, President Donald J. Trump, while not a veteran himself, has proven he is the best friend an active duty, retired or military veteran could have in many a year. God bless him.
We hope that retired CDR Well’s outstanding work has caught the eye of our esteemed commander-in-chief, who would do well by all of us if he appointed the Louisiana veterans rights fighter to a high position in the Veterans Administration in Washington. Wells would be an excellent choice.
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