April 2000/May 2000
Veterans Benefits Committee Report
Veterans vs. The Establishment
By Jerry Klein, Chair
With the revelations about the Ranch Hand Agent Orange Study hitting
the airwaves, the challenge ahead for the Veterans Benefits Committee and
for all Vietnam veterans has become apparent. It is to make clear to the
political establishment that Vietnam veterans will not fade into the
background and that we will be even more active in this election year.
The focus for action encompasses many fronts. It includes modifying the
law concerning well-grounded claims, hepatitis C regulations and
congressional action, special monthly compensation for women veterans for
radical and simple mastectomies, and an all-out offensive to force the
government to grant service connection for diabetes and cardiovascular
disease as Agent Orange disabilities.
Our task is daunting. The entrenched bureaucracy will not budge and
will take any action to oppose our effort to bring justice to the veterans
of this country. We must seek congressional support and we must be willing
to challenge the very fabric of our government--the political
establishment itself--to achieve our goals.
This is an election year with the entire House of Representatives, one
third of the Senate, and the presidency at stake. We must be willing to
fight for the benefits that rightfully belong to those who were injured in
the service of our nation. If the bureaucrats get in our way, we must
demand their removal from the positions they hold.
No level of the bureaucracy is sacred--not the Secretary of Veterans
Affairs, not the Under Secretary for Benefits, not the Director of the
Compensation and Pension Service. We will no longer accept the premise
that the bureaucracy is the government and that the bureaucrats will
dictate policy to its citizens. It is time for the rule-making
establishment to create rules and regulations that are veteran-friendly or
face the consequences of political action in this election year.