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Rep. Courtney Announces Fleet Reserve Association’s Support for the Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act

October 30, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Congress Joe Courtney (CT-02) announced that the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) has endorsed his bill, the bipartisan Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act (H.R. 566). The Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act would remove burdensome manifestation requirements from certain diseases that the VA has linked to Agent Orange exposure. Rep. Courtney first introduced the bill in July 2018 after working with Gerry Wright, a Vietnam veteran from Andover, Connecticut who has raised awareness on Agent Orange exposure throughout the country, and has gathered thousands of signatures in support of making changes to these requirements. Rep. Courtney reintroduced the Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act in January, at the outset of the 116th Congress – it was the first bill he introduced to this Congress as a member of the new majority. 
In the last month, the list of bipartisan co-sponsors for H.R. 566 has more than doubled in size. Today’s announcement of support from the Fleet Reserve marks the fourth National Veterans’ Service Organization to endorse Rep. Courtney’s bill in four weeks. 
“As Chairman of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and as the Representative for eastern Connecticut – home to so many veterans of our nation’s Sea Services – to have the endorsement of FRA for my bill, the Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act, is particularly significant,” said Congressman Courtney. “For nearly a century, the FRA has been a fierce protector for the benefits and pay of current and former enlisted Sea Service members, and their support for our bill signals support from the Sea Service community at large. Passing this bill is just the right thing to do, and support from groups like the FRA is crucial as we keep pushing ahead to ensure these veterans get the care they deserve.”

In a letter to Rep. Courtney dated October 18, 2019, John Rowan, National President and Chief Executive Officer of the FRA, wrote: 
“The Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) supports your legislation, the “Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act” (H.R. 566). […] 
“The current law requires that these veterans prove that the symptoms of these diseases developed within a year of exposure in order to receive presumptive status of service connection from the VA. These veterans served in Vietnam and were exposed to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange and it is unreasonable to ask these veterans to prove their exposure. They served like all other Vietnam veterans and [were] exposed to the same toxins and their illness that developed as a result of their service should be treated the same.” 

The full letter from FRA is available online.

The FRA is a non-profit organization founded in 1924, and is made up of active duty, veteran and retired members of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and works to advance the interests of the enlisted Sea Service members and their families. 
For more information on the Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act, including the history of the bill and a list of supporting organizations, visit Congressman Courtney’s website