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November 8, 2013
(Washington, DC) – “Among the so-called invisible wounds of war are those brought home by troops that may not manifest for a decade or more,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). “Tragically, these wounds may be passed on genetically to the progeny of our nation’s warriors, as we are well acquainted with having been exposed to Agent Orange.”
“Therefore we welcome the introduction of S.1602, the Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support Act of 2013, which has just been introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). This legislation would establish within the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center for the diagnosis, treatment, and research of the health conditions of the progeny of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service in the Armed Forces, and to provide diagnostic treatment and care to them,” Rowan said.
“VVA strongly supports this bill, which reflects positively on one of our foremost legislative goals. Not only will its enactment help achieve a measure of justice for the innocent victims of the use of toxic substances in times of war, but it offers significant opportunities for scientific research into the intergenerational effects of these toxic chemicals, ” noted Rowan. This legislation would also establish an Office of Extramural Research, to award grants to reputable scientists and epidemiologists to conduct research on wounds, illnesses, injuries, and other conditions suffered by individuals as a result of exposure to toxic substances while serving as members of the Armed Forces.
“Ask the Department of Veterans Affairs how many studies its hundreds of scientists are conducting in this realm. Ask the NIH. And the CDC,” Rowan challenged. “Finally, we offer our sincere thanks to Sen. Blumenthal, for his empathy and for his vision. His legislation gives hope to the progeny of warriors who are suffering from health conditions which we believe may derive from exposure to toxic substances.”
“Because of our ongoing struggle with the unfortunate legacy of Agent Orange, and because of our empathy for veterans of other conflicts, including the first Gulf War, with their still-undefined Gulf War illnesses, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where exposure to fumes from burn pits will be their unwanted legacy, we will pull out all stops to work to ensure passage of S. 1602, and to see that companion legislation is introduced in the House,” Rowan concluded.
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Senator Blumenthal, (CT) Introduces Toxic Exposure Bill S.1602Vietnam Veterans of America, Executive Director for Government Affairs, Rick Weidman, testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on October 30, 2013, in his testimony Mr. Weidman testified in support of the draft bill submitted by Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT), would establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center for the diagnosis, treatment, and research of health conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during service in the Armed Forces, and to provide certain services to those descendants.
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Vietnam Veterans of America (www.vva.org) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”