WASHINGTON, D.C. Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-08) introduced bipartisan legislation today that would ensure Vietnam War veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange get the critical care they deserve.

Currently, The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mandates that veterans who served in Cambodia, Thailand, or Laos must carry the burden of providing evidence of exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The Veterans Agent Orange Exposure Equity Act would expand the presumption of exposure to this toxic herbicide for Vietnam War veterans who were deployed to certain areas in Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos.

“Our veterans are heroes and deserve to be treated as such. I am proud to join Rep. Cartwright in introducing legislation that will ensure our Vietnam War veterans who served in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia receive the care they deserve now, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to work across the aisle to support these men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick.

“In the United States, we take care of our fellow Americans who have been harmed in the course of their military service. It should be no different in the case of the Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange,” said Rep. Cartwright. “Many of those who have been exposed are living with cancers, heart disease or Parkinson’s disease. They deserve relief for the pain and hardship this has caused for them and their families.”

The VA adds additional restrictions regarding where and what military occupation a veteran must have served while reviewing service-connected disability claims on a case-by-case basis as well. This process disqualifies too many veterans from receiving the benefits they deserve, despite the fact that the VA and Department of Defense recognized that agent orange was used, tested, and stored in locations outside of the Republic of Vietnam, going as far as to included these other locations in a list on the VA’s website.

If passed, the Veterans Agent Orange Exposure Equity Act would:

  • Expand the presumption of exposure to herbicides to certain veterans who served in the active military, naval, or air service while assigned to a duty station in close proximity to the Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.
  • Presume exposure for veterans with service at the following duty stations, regardless of military occupation specialty or other designation:
  • Served in Thailand at
    • US Army Bases or Royal Thai Air Force Bases during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975 or
    • Royal Thai Army Replacement Training Center, Pranburi Military Reservation during the period beginning January 1, 1964 and ending on April 30, 1964
  • Served in Laos during the period beginning on December 1, 1965 and ending on September 30, 1969
  • Served in Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kompon Cham Province during the period beginning on April 16 and ending on April 30, 1969

Additional cosponsors of this bill are Reps. Joe Morelle (D-NY-25), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.-At Large), Dina Titus (D-NV-01) and Albio Sires (D-NJ-08).

Full text of the bill can be found HERE.