CONGRESSMEN BISHOP AND DENT REINTRODUCE AGENT ORANGE RECONCILIATION ACT
Jun 14, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) and Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA) reintroduced the Agent Orange Reconciliation Act of 2017 (H.R. 2891) in an effort to help heal the post-conflict, human cost of war by caring for children living with Spina Bifida due to a Vietnam veteran parent’s exposure to Agent Orange.
Spina Bifida requires costly surgeries and extensive medical care because of potential paralysis resulting from damage to the spinal cord. The Agent Orange Reconciliation Act of 2017 would fill gaps in the Agent Orange Benefits Act (Public Law 104-204) by providing a one-time retroactive monetary payment to the families with children enduring with Spina Bifida to compensate for treatment of related symptoms from birth until the date benefits under the original Act were first received.
“Our legislation would provide necessary relief for those Vietnam veterans' children suffering with Spina Bifida due to Agent Orange," said Congressman Bishop. "These veterans and their families have been left with the cost of years of medical care directly attributable to the veteran’s wartime service. We owe it to our veterans to care for them and their families, and this legislation would help do just that.”
“I’m honored to join my good friend and colleague, Congressman Bishop, in this appropriate effort to provide well-deserved support to these long-suffering families,” added Congressman Dent. “It is my hope that this bipartisan measure will move forward in order to assist the children of our Vietnam veterans who have faced the effects of Spina Bifida as a result of their parents’ honorable service.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs presumes a link between Vietnam-era veterans exposed to herbicides such as Agent Orange and the incidences of Spina Bifida in their biological children. The Agent Orange Benefits Act, which became law in 1996, established a benefits package for the children of Vietnam veterans as a result of exposure of one or both biological parents to herbicide during active duty in the Vietnam War. Benefits include lifetime health care services for Spina Bifida and any disability associated with Spina Bifida, a monthly monetary allowance, and VA vocational training and rehabilitation service. The Act authorized the VA to provide such benefits effective October 1, 1997, but not earlier than the date of the VA’s receipt of an individual’s claim for benefits. However, the Agent Orange Benefits Act did not tackle the already incurred medical costs directly correlated to Spina Bifida.
According to the VA, approximately 1,200 affected children of Vietnam-era veterans have received compensation since the date benefits under the original Act were first received. While these children became eligible for benefits in 1997, veterans and their families have been left with the cost of years of medical care necessary to treat a child’s birth conditions directly attributable to the veteran’s wartime service. Due to medical advances, most children born with Spina Bifida live well into their adulthood.