Tester pushes expansion of health benefits to veterans exposed to Agent Orange
Senators legislation extends benefits to more veterans, families exposed to toxins
(U.S. Senate) - Senator Jon Tester today questioned VA officials in a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing about two of his bills to extend benefits and increase research on the treatment of veterans and military families exposed to Agent Orange.
The herbicide Agent Orange was widely used during the Vietnam War, and American veterans exposed to the chemical were later found to be at higher risk for a number of diseases, including cancer. The VA currently presumes eligibility for service-connected disability benefits to veterans who served in Vietnam and may have been exposed to Agent Orange during the war. However, that eligibility is extended only to those who served within the land borders of Vietnam.
Tester's Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act that would allow veterans who served in the waters offshore during the Vietnam War to also be eligible for service-connected disability benefits as a result of Agent Orange exposure.
"For far too long, the veterans of the Vietnam War never received the benefits or the recognition they deserved, but now we're trying to right that terrible wrong," said Tester, a senior member of the committee. "We need to finally provide proper care and benefits for veterans and families suffering from Agent Orange exposure, and we must make sure that today's military members and future generations don't suffer the same mistreatment."
The committee also heard testimony on Tester's Toxic Exposure Research Act that increases research into health conditions of descendants of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and other toxins during their military service.