A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

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.


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