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Government Affairs, March/April 2024 -   -  
   

Honoring Tom Corey's Memory and Legacy

Despite the divisive state of Congress, the Government Affairs team is off to a strong start this year, making significant progress advancing the interests of veterans of the Vietnam War and beyond.

First and foremost, we are vigorously advocating for the West Palm Beach, Florida, VA Medical Center to be renamed in honor of Thomas H. Corey, who many of you should know from his decades of service to our organization. The bill to make this happen is H.R. 7333 Ė please call your representatives or stop by their local offices to show your support so that we can honor his memory and mark his legacy.

We are also continuing to gain ground with the revision of the 48-hour rule. As you may recall, the 48-hour rule was a review period where veterans service officers had the opportunity to review disability claims before the VA issued its final decision.

During the review, these individuals were able to contest findings and point out errors made by the VA, increasing accuracy in claims decisions, and reducing the likelihood that veterans would have to trudge through the appeals process. The Government Affairs team is working diligently with congressional staffers to get a bill introduced in the House of Representatives.

Lastly, but perhaps most significantly, the VA has issued a new proposed regulation that may expand eligibility for toxic exposure presumption. The first change affects Blue Water Navy veterans. The VA will interpret the territorial waters under the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 as matching the waters currently claimed by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

The second and more expansive change will be to grant toxic exposure presumptions based on domestic and overseas lists of sites where AO and other herbicides were tested, used, or stored. These lists are maintained by the DoDís Armed Forces Pest Management Board, which is responsible for updating them.

The board accepts submissions from the public for the purpose of further developing the list. This presents an opportunity for us to review the list and gather evidence for the inclusion of previously unidentified exposure sites. With this, we would be able to apply pressure on Congress and the VA to include more locations, allowing veterans who may not even be aware that they were exposed to gain information and access to healthcare and benefits.


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