|Vietnam Veterans of America|
|President’s Message, July/August 2022|
PACT Act: Good, if Imperfect, Bill
BY JACK McMANUS
During the hustle and bustle of the politicians and celebrities lining up to support comprehensive legislation to address the long-term military toxic exposure issue, some of the intent of the original House bill had been traded away.
To be certain, The Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 is a good bill that will address a few lingering issues affecting Vietnam veterans with Agent Orange presumptive conditions, particularly for hypertension and MGUS.
But VVA had been pushing to include more language to cover a broader interpretation of presumed coverage for Navy and Marine veterans who were exposed in the offshore waters of Vietnam. It is our position (with strong grassroots support) that any veteran who served in the Vietnam theater of combat operations was exposed and should be eligible for coverage. This will remain a VVA priority if it is excluded from the final PACT Act. This effects up to 300,000 Vietnam War veterans and their families, so we are not giving up.
The PACT Act will do great things for the post-9/11 veterans in addressing burn pit issues. We are grateful that we could influence the direction of the bill to provide care first and determine the cause later.
We don’t like the provisions that empower the VA Secretary with sole authority to determine who and what conditions are presumptive for military toxic exposure. We have been burned by changing political winds, and veterans and their families are still without care and compensation for medical conditions incurred during military service.
We remain firmly committed to advocating for Persian Gulf War veterans and subsequent generations of veterans who have Gulf War Syndrome. We will continue to fight to ensure these illnesses are recognized so that these veterans receive health care without the resistance we encountered with Agent Orange.
WE ARE LISTENING
Recently, a Florida chapter president and membership chair took me to the woodshed over legitimate concerns about new life member application-processing deficiencies. Besides complaining, they provided an explanation of their business processes, which were great. As we now have a new membership department manager, Nicole Kennedy, and a new accounting director, Anthony Powell, we were able to look at this issue with new sets of eyes.
The officers and staff did a deep dive into the process and concluded the issues likely were caused by a breakdown with our bank and its third-party lockbox contractor. The fix, in addition to changing the third-party lockbox contractor, includes modifying our entire process, putting in place more checks and balances. and expediting a new membership processes.
Our long-term goal is to have our website redesigned so that the entire membership-renewal process can be performed online. The redesign will be ready later this year. Look for positive changes in membership processes because someone got my attention about a serious issue.
POW/MIAs AND THE VA
We still have 1,584 missing from the Vietnam War, yet the well-funded government agencies charged with making recoveries have not made any significant searches or recoveries in recent years. It is our job to hold their feet to the fire.
Looking at the way Russia is addressing prisoners and civilians in the war in Ukraine, it seems likely that POW and MIAs will again become an issue. It is our role to ensure our government doesn’t forget and remains vigilant for providing the fullest possible accounting.
The VVA Board of Directors approved the Agent Orange Committee’s recommendation to file a lawsuit against the VA for its failure to implement the Toxic Exposure Research Act.
Change isn't easy
Over the past several months we have been working to complete the modernization of our national office IT infrastructure. Our previous setup was a hodge-podge of operating systems and servers dating back more than twenty-five years. Please bear with us while we upgrade our system to better serve you.
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