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Congressman Joe Courtney

Representing the 2nd District of Connecticut

Ahead of Veterans Day, Courtney Announces American Legion Endorsement of Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act

November 9, 2018
Press Release

Norwich, CT – In advance of Veterans Day, Representative Joe Courtney (CT-02) announced that the American Legion has endorsed the Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act (H.R. 6566), legislation he has introduced to remove onerous manifestation requirements from certain diseases, which the VA has linked to Agent Orange exposure. Rep. Courtney introduced his bill in July after working with Gerry Wright, a Vietnam veteran from Andover, Connecticut who has traveled across the country to raise awareness on Agent Orange exposure and has gathered thousands of signatures in support of making changes to these requirements.

 “Ensuring fairness for all veterans exposed to Agent Orange is not just good policy – it’s the right thing to do for those who served in harm’s way. The support of the American Legion sends a powerful message about need the for action to get veterans like Gerry Wright and so many others the long overdue care and support they deserve,” Courtney said.

“I wish to thank the American Legion for their endorsement of HR 6566. Once passed, this will help the surviving Vietnam and Korean Veterans with treatment and compensation. I'm grateful and thankful for their support,” Gerry Wright stated.

Under current law and regulations, veterans must demonstrate that the symptoms of certain diseases developed within a year of exposure in order to receive the care and compensation they deserve. Rep. Courtney’s bill eliminates these exclusive and unfair requirements to include all servicemembers who were exposed to the pesticide, granting them access the benefits they’re entitled to.

In a letter to Courtney dated November 7, 2018, Brett Reistad, National Commander of the American Legion, wrote:

“On behalf of the nearly 2 million members of The American Legion, I am pleased to express support for H.R. 6566 – the Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act, as currently written. Manifest periods required for presumptions of service-connected disabilities create avoidable legal struggles for veterans exposed to certain herbicide agents in Korea from 1968-1971, and Vietnam from 1961-1971. Unreasonable and punitive onset dates result in the loss of earned disability compensation, and in some cases, medical treatment for veterans. Removal of the manifestation period required for the presumptions of service connection for chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, as well as acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy ensures veterans who were exposed to these chemicals are provided with the benefits and healthcare they deserve.”

Click here for the full letter from the American Legion.

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