VVA Press Release

CONGRESS TACKLES UNPRECEDENTED VETERANS LEGISLATION


Washington, D.C. (July 30, 1996) -- Congress faces unprecedented legislation today which aims to create a benefits package for children of Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange.

The legislation, to be introduced by Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.) is a follow up to Pres. Bill Clinton's call this past May for broader benefits to Vietnam veterans and their children facing illnesses from Agent Orange exposure.

Vietnam Veterans of America national president James Brazee says, "These veterans have suffered for upwards of 20 years until finally receiving confirmation of their worst fears--that their military service has jeopardized the health and welfare of their children. The next logical and necessary step is for Congress to implement a remedy to assist these unfortunate, secondary victims of the U.S. use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War."

Evans and Daschle will introduce the Agent Orange Benefits Act of 1996, to provide comprehensive health care to children of Agent Orange exposed veterans, a modest compensation program, and vocational rehabilitation. Many veterans and their families are forced into impoverishment by mounting health care costs associated with caring for their children with spina bifida

If this legislation is passed, VVA will recommend to the secretary of Veterans Affairs that a consumer advisory panel be established to monitor implementation and usage of this benefits program, and to make recommendations to the secretary and Congress. "Because provision of such benefits to veterans' dependents is unprecedented, we feel that input from beneficiaries and their families will be very important for effective VA program administration," says Brazee.

In the Senate, Daschle will also introduce an amendment to the fiscal year 1997 appropriation bill for the VA, Housing and Urban Development, and independent agencies. This amendment would provide the same benefits as the Agent Orange Benefits Act of 1996.

The National Academy of Sciences recently evaluated scientific data showing a correlation between spina bifida and veteran parents' exposure to Agent Orange. This data has provided the first unbiased analysis of the genetic health effects of herbicide exposure. "We consider this acknowledgement of disproportionately high rates of spina bifida among veterans' children to be a major victory for those working on Agent Orange issues," says Brazee.

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Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation's only Congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.


Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc.
A Not-For-Profit Veterans Service Organization Chartered by the United States Congress


For Further Information Contact:

Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc.
Attn.: Mokie Pratt Porter
1224 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005-5183
Tel: 202-628-2700 ext. 146
General FAX: 202-628-5880
Communications FAX: 202-783-4942
e-mail: 71154.702@compuserve.com
URL: http://www.vva.org

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