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Congressman Joe Courtney

Representing the 2nd District of Connecticut

Rep. Courtney Announces Vietnam Veterans of America Endorsement of the Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act

October 21, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) announced that the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) organization 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.

Since then, the list of bipartisan co-sponsors for H.R. 566 has more than doubled in size. Today’s announcement of support from the VVA represents the third National Veterans’ Service Organization to endorse Rep. Courtney’s bill in as many weeks.

“To have the support of the Vietnam Veterans of America for my bill, the Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act, is particularly significant,” said Congressman Courtney. “I crafted this bill with the help of Gerry Wright, a Vietnam Veteran from Andover, CT, who is intimately familiar with the dangers and health risks posed by Agent Orange. The VVA has over 75,000 members – they offer a range of services, and while those services aren’t restricted only to Vietnam War veterans, they’re among the organizations who best know the needs of Vietnam vets. Helping veterans suffering from exposure to Agent Orange is one of the VVAs primary focuses, and to have their endorsement of H.R. 566 is a sign that with this bill, we’re doing right by our vets. I am grateful to VVA for their support, and for all of the support they provide to our millions of veterans.”

In a letter to Rep. Courtney dated October 18, 2019, John Rowan, National President and Chief Executive Officer of the VVA, wrote:

“On behalf of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), and our Agent Orange/Dioxin and Other Toxic Substances Committee, we are writing in support of H.R. 566, the Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act of 2019. Your legislation would remove the one-year cutoff for the manifestation of chloracne, acute/subacute peripheral neuropathy, and porphyria cutanea tarda associated with exposure to certain herbicides and required for presumption of service-connection. Also, at our 2019 National Convention, the delegates passed Resolution AO-17 supporting this issue.

[…]

“Vietnam veterans – and brother and sister veterans who served on bases in Thailand, along the DMZ in Korea, and certain other areas – who are afflicted with health conditions associated with herbicide exposure have endured lengthy, and for the most part unsuccessful, struggles with the Veterans Benefits Administration to prove that these maladies are associated with their time in uniform.

“It’s long past time to end this injustice. It is our hope that enactment of H.R. 566 will accomplish just that.”

The full letter from VVA is available online, and included below.

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.

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