Rally Report

OK. So, what happened and what is the current status?

The Rally in DC was successful in that it "gave us a presence" in the nation's capital, and it gave us the opportunity to be the background for Congressman Chris Gibson's (and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's) Press Conference.

But it is worth mentioning that there were other Rally's held around the country, including those in:

Those are the ones I've heard about. If there were others, including "one-man events," please let me know so I can complete our list showing nation-wide participation. I apologize if I've left anyone off the list that has already told me, but if you're not on the list, please drop me an email with some details.

One misreported occurrence was Congressman Gibson's Amendment to H.R.4974 - Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017. On May 19th, the day following the Rally, Rep. Gibson added an amendment to that Bill which stated: "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to enforce VA Adjudication Procedure Manual M21-1, Part IV, Subpart ii, Chapter 1, Section H, Topic 28.h related to Developing Claims Based on Service Aboard Ships Offshore the RVN." This Amendment was approved by vote in the House.

The purpose of this Amendment was (apparently) to force the VA to deal with the efforts being made to have them change that regulation which eliminates Blue Water Navy personnel from receiving Presumptive Exposure for diseases acknowledged to be caused by Agent Orange/dioxin. That Amendment was not on the Senate version of that Bill, so it went into committee to resolve issues of elements of the Bill that differed between House and Senate. It was not added to the Senate version.

Absolutely nothing was done to either advance or harm HR-969 or S-681. They are still active Bills being held by both the House and Senate Veteran Affairs Committees. Rep. Jeff Miller won't let HR-969 out of Committee because he wants further study to be done by the Navy to look for residue of dioxin on an old ship of the Vietnam Era. That is counter to the concept of presumption of exposure (which needs no finding of residue), and is akin to suggesting that some building in Saigon from the War Era be disassembled to look for dioxin residue before the boots-on-ground Disabilities get paid. It falls into the same mentality as the VA's certainty that dioxin did not leave the shoreline of Vietnam solely because they drew a line down the coast on a map.

S-681 is being held in the Senate Committee because Bernie Sanders, a member of that Committee, will not agree to fund the legislation by "rounding down" all other Veteran Disability checks to pay for the Blue Water Navy legislation. That is a system where veteran disability checks are rounded down to the nearest dollar amount, so that, e.g., a check for $101.34 is rounded down to $101 and the $0.34 is put into a fund to pay for the Disability checks of a Blue Water Navy veteran.

At this point, the forward status of HR-969 and S-681 is still pure speculation.

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