No. 027-00  
      IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            July 10, 2000                           (301) 585-4000


WASHINGTON, D.C.- Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) National President George C. Duggins, in response to news of the departure of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Togo D. West, Jr. said, “On behalf of all of our members we wish the best to the him and his family as he embarks on new endeavors.”  Duggins went on, “We urge the President and Vice President Gore to work with Acting Secretary Hershel Gober to clear the log jams on numerous issues of vital concern to veterans and their families, and to take bold and swift action on key fronts.

Among the pressing issues is the establishment of presumptive service-connected disability compensation for Hepatitis C in veterans.  Duggins noted, “VVA filed a formal petition with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) asking for presumptive service connection for Hepatitis C on March 23, 1999.  Some fifteen months later, longer than a tour of duty in Vietnam, VVA has yet to have an answer from the Secretary.  VVA asks that Acting Secretary Gober move to grant VVA’s petition and immediately publish regulations to establish presumptive service connection.”

VVA again calls upon the President to ensure that the petition filed on April 27, 2000 in regard to “in-country effect” -- the overall negative health effects on those veterans who served in Vietnam -- receives a thorough hearing and immediate consideration.

On a related track, Duggins urged the President to expedite movement toward Agent Orange and hazardous chemical research in Vietnam, as well as to initiate research projects in the United States on American veterans of Vietnam, and their families, as required by the “Agent Orange Act of 1991”.

“It is vital that the President and Vice President actively support and encourage Acting Secretary Gober to move quickly and boldly to re-establish a positive momentum at the VA.  Only effective leadership will result in obtaining more adequate funding for veterans health care, benefits and services.  Without that assertive leadership, the VA will be condemned to the same unfortunate pattern of decline veterans have experienced in recent years,” Duggins said.

VVA’s point of contact for additional information is Scott D. Campbell at (301) 585-4000 ext. 158.  

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is  "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."   


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