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K00796 Summary:

SPONSORPheffer Amato
COSPNSRMorinello, DenDekker, Hunter
MLTSPNSRBenedetto, Blankenbush, Cusick, D'Urso, Hawley, Lavine, McDonough, Mosley, Nolan, Ortiz, Ramos, Skoufis
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K00796 Actions:

01/30/2018referred to veterans' affairs
02/28/2018reported to calendar for consideration
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K00796 Memo:

Memo not available
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K00796 Text:

Assembly Resolution No. 796
BY: M. of A. Pheffer Amato
        URGING the New York State Congressional delegation
        to  pass the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of
        2017, S.422/H.R. 299
  WHEREAS, The  federal  legislation,  The  Blue  Water  Navy  Vietnam
Veterans  Act  of  2017,  would  restore the presumption of Agent Orange
exposure to  those  veterans  who  served  in  the  bays,  harbors,  and
territorial seas of Vietnam; and
  WHEREAS,  S.422/  H.R.  299  would  correct a Veteran's Affairs (VA)
policy decision implemented in 2002, that  unilaterally  stripped  these
veterans  of the presumption of exposure granted by the Agent Orange Act
of 1991; and
  WHEREAS, This action was based on a 1997 General  Counsel's  opinion
that  interpreted  the  phase "service in the Republic of Vietnam" as to
apply  only  to  the  landmass;  the   opinion   ignored   international
recognition  that national sovereignty extended to the territorial seas;
  WHEREAS, The United States specifically recognized this  sovereignty
in  the  1954  Geneva Accords and the 1973 Paris Peace Treaty that ended
the Vietnam War; and
  WHEREAS, Dioxin is a chemical  contaminant  that  was  contained  in
Agent  Orange,  a  herbicide  used  for defoliation in Vietnam from 1962
until 1971; and
  WHEREAS, Agent Orange received  its  name  from  orange  painted  on
barrels containing the herbicide; and
  WHEREAS,  Herbicide-spraying  operations  were  conducted  to  clear
vegetation, denying the enemy camouflage or cover for ambush; herbicides
were also used to destroy enemy food crops and to clear base perimeters,
landing zones, waterways,  and  communication  lines;  an  estimated  11
million gallons of Agent Orange was sprayed; and
  WHEREAS,  Diseases  and/or conditions were recognized by the federal
Department of Veterans Affairs to be associated with Agent Orange; among
those cited include, but limited to: adult-onset diabetes mellitus (Type
11), Parkinson's disease, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, respiratory
cancers, and soft-tissue sarcoma; and
  WHEREAS, Throughout the Vietnam War, the United States Navy provided
support for combat operations ashore.  This  included  air  strikes  and
close  air  support,  naval  gunfire  support,  electronic intelligence,
interdiction of enemy vessels and the insertion of supplies  and  troops
ashore. Almost every such operation was conducted within the territorial
seas; and
  WHEREAS,  In  1991,  federal  legislation  was  enacted to allow the
Secretary of Veterans Affairs to declare certain illnesses "presumptive"
to exposure to Agent  Orange  and  enabled  these  veterans  to  receive
disability compensation for these related conditions; and
  WHEREAS,  In 2002, the VA limited the scope of the law to only those
veterans who could provide orders for "boots on the ground" in  Vietnam;
boots  on  the  ground  encompassed infantry and the riverine Navy; as a
result, veterans who served in the waters off Vietnam, commonly known as
"blue water veterans," were forced to file individual claims with the VA
to restore their benefits, which are  then  decided  on  a  case-by-case
basis; the VA has denied over 32,000 through 2009; and
  WHEREAS,  In  May 2011, a report issued by the Institute of Medicine
concluded that plausible routes of exposure of Agent  Orange  exist  for
blue water veterans; presumptive coverage lifts the burden of prove from
the individual veteran to prove direct exposure of Agent Orange; and
  WHEREAS,  In  April  2015,  the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
rules that the  VA  policy  of  excluding  bays  and  harbors  from  the
definition  of  inland  waters,  presumption of exposure was irrational,
arbitrary and capricious; and
  WHEREAS, There are estimated to  be  some  90,000  Blue  Water  Navy
veterans nationwide; and
  WHEREAS,  This  legislation  is  endorsed  by  about 35 military and
veterans organization including but not limited to the American  Legion,
The  Military  Coalition,  Veterans  of  Foreign  Wars, Reserve Officers
Association, Fleet Reserve Association, Military Officers Association of
America, Vietnam Veterans of America, the Association of the U.S.  Navy,
Fleet  Reserve  Association  and  the  Blue  Water Navy Vietnam Veterans
Association; now, therefore, be it
  RESOLVED, That the New York State Congressional  delegation  be  and
hereby  is  respectfully  memorialized  by this Legislative Body to pass
legislation to provide presumptive coverage of Agent Orange exposure  to
those veterans known as "blue water veterans", S.422/ H.R.299; and be it
  RESOLVED,  That  copies  of  this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be
transmitted to each member of  the  Congressional  delegation  from  the
State  of  New York; John Rowan, President, Vietnam Veterans of America;
and Ned D. Foote, President, Vietnam Veterans of America New York  State
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