Scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 20 at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) along with the largest veterans organizations in the country and local Vietnam War veterans battling bladder cancer will announce the launch of a final effort to expand coverage for veterans exposed to Agent Orange but who are unable to access support from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Rep. Harder is kicking off an effort inside Washington to encourage the inclusion of these benefits in the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – colloquially known as the “Defense Bill,” which should be signed into law by the year’s end.
The national veterans organizations will announce their own complementary efforts to encourage veterans around the country to write their elected officials asking them to include this legislation in that bill. For five decades, veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and developed specific conditions as a result have been unable to get automatic access to benefits for those related illnesses through the VA, despite comprehensive scientific evidence linking the illnesses to exposure.
Earlier this year, Harder introduced The Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act, which would ensure Vietnam veterans with bladder cancer, certain thyroid problems, and Parkinson’s like symptoms get access to the program through the VA. The bill passed as an amendment to the Senate version of the annual must-pass “Defense Bill.” To become law, the amendment must now be included in the final version of the legislation which should be negotiated and passed before the end of the year.
In addition to Harder, those planning to take part in the ZOOM program detailing this effort include local Vietnam Veterans fighting bladder cancer, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW), Vietnam Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and the Michael J. Fox Foundation.