December 13, 2015 Status Update

We believe that the VAs re-written regulations for Blue Water Navy exposure to Agent Orange are currently at the White House being reviewed. VA indicated to the Senate Committee they would have this information to them by Thanksgiving, but obviously that was delayed. There is not much question that the re-written regs will include ships in any Vietnamese harbor... that much is pretty well guaranteed by the Gray decision. We have been seeing various Regional Offices as well as the BVA granting claims for AO exposure to men on ships in harbors but who did not leave the ship. We are continuing to press the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees to move forward with the legislation, and we will not simply accept a change by the VA without having it cemented by a legal statute... what one Secretary can give, another can take away, as we have seen.

What is not clear right now is: how much additional give will the VA allow for the rest of the BWN? Our legislation will ensure that anyone in the Territorial Seas (as defined as 12 miles from Baseline) will be granted exposure. We will then be arranging support for the rest of the ships, primarily the aircraft carriers, that may not have entered the Territorial Seas on every WESTPAC tour. But we believe we have a way to justify that, and perhaps get the original criteria of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 re-instated.... But we do not know that for sure and will not know that until we see what the VA comes to the table with. The best timeline this can now play out in is within the second year of this 114th Congress, meaning it will all have to happen after Congress re-convenes after January 1, 2016. That is less than 3 weeks away.

I hope this helps you understand where we are with this issue,

-John Rossie