U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) | Contributed photo
U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Dist. 14) has co-sponsored the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2015, which grants presumptive Agent Orange exposure status to military service members who served in the territorial seas of Vietnam during the Vietnam War
The bill, which would enable eligible veterans to receive Veterans Administration health benefits from diseases linked to Agent Orange, aims to reduce wait times for benefit claims under current VA regulations.
“Many veterans across our nation have suffered greatly as a result of their service to our nation. It is critical that they receive all the assistance they need for illnesses resulting from the line of duty,” Hultgren said. “We must hold the VA accountable in their identification of ships that may have been subject to certain herbicide agents in Vietnam so that our veterans can receive the benefits they deserve."
At the moment, Blue Water Navy Veterans who did not serve aboard ships that operated on the territorial seas of Vietnam or set foot in Vietnam between January 1962 and May 1975 must prove exposure to Agent Orange, as well as the connection to their illnesses. H.R. 969 calls for a complete search for all ships eligible under current law to be completed within one year, thereby reducing the wait time for new claims, and assisting veterans who are currently sick, or may have died, while their claims are being processed.
“After hearing from local veterans at my veterans meeting on VA reform in May, I am proud to be a co-sponsor of legislation that not only impacts veterans in the 14th District, but around the nation," Hultgren said.