Tester’s Blue Water Navy Veterans Bill Clears Key Hurdle

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Advances Numerous Tester Bills to Expand Benefits for Veterans and Hold VA Accountable

(U.S. Senate) – The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee today passed several bills authored by U.S. Senator Jon Tester, including a landmark bill to guarantee that veterans who served off the shores of Vietnam and were exposed to toxins such as Agent Orange can access treatment and benefits from the VA.

Tester’s Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act changes current law, which only allows veterans who served within the borders of Vietnam to access healthcare and benefits related to their Agent Orange exposure.

“A generation of veterans bravely served our nation in the Vietnam War, and far too many of them are struggling with the horrific impacts of toxic exposure,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Our bill makes sure that the VA does right by all Vietnam veterans suffering from exposure to Agent Orange. Today’s vote is a step in the right direction, now the Senate must quickly take up and pass our bill to get these veterans the health care and benefits they need.”

The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee also passed the following Tester-authored bills:

  • The Veterans’ Electronic Health Record Modernization Oversight Act ensures the VA stays on target and is transparent in its plan to roll out a new commercial electronic health record system for nine million veterans. In doing so, it requires the VA to provide a detailed plan about how it will ensure every veteran’s medical records are available electronically and can be transferred between the VA, the Department of Defense’s medical facilities, and community providers.
  • The Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act extends critical job training, counseling and placement services to at-risk veterans.
  • The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act authorizes the VA to conduct and support research regarding the efficacy and safety of cannabis on the health outcomes of veterans diagnosed with chronic pain, PTSD, and other conditions that the VA determines appropriate.

These bills, including the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, now go to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote, after which they would advance to the Senate for consideration.