Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Letter to DAV - Re: Senator Webb & DAV & 3 New Presumptive Illnesses


Post Office Box 1229
Bayonne, New Jersey 07002-6229
Phone: 908-638-6010 Fax: 908-638-8443

July 8, 2010

Joseph A. Violante
National Legislative Director
Disabled American Veterans
807 Maine Avenue S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20024-2410

Dear Mr. Violante:

I find it most regrettable that the Disabled American Veterans has chosen to "sit on the sidelines" while herbicide exposed veterans continue to die for lack of adequate funds and resources to combat the illnesses from which they suffer. I fully stand by the Statement of John Rowan, National President of the Vietnam Veterans of America (copy enclosed) supporting the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in his decision relating to presumptive disorders.

When a Veterans Service Organization chooses inaction rather than advocacy for the veterans then that service organization has abrogated its duty to those veterans it has sworn to serve. Waiting on the sidelines, even for now, while legislative forces are attempting to take away hard fought gains due to funding issues cannot be accepted nor allowed. It is our responsibility, as advocates, to ensure that our fellow veterans are allowed to be treated for their service-connected illnesses promptly, with dignity and honor. The Disabled American Veterans cannot and must not simply stick its head in the sand and say "pass" .

Senator Webb is so wrong when he states that the Agent Orange Act of 1991 was enacted to care for "relatively rare conditions". The Senator continually mentions the cost of these illnesses. Since when does the United States Government concern itself with cost when going to war? That same philosophy must be used when treating its veterans who fought in those wars. Mr. Rowan's Press Release is quite thorough so I won't repeat the reasons for enacting the Agent Orange Act of 1991. What I strongly advocate is that your organization gets off its ass and again become an active group of veterans' advocates whose first duty is to veterans and not the budget.

Yours in Brotherhood,

Michael Eckstein, Chair
Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee
New Jersey State Council,
Vietnam Veterans of America

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