Chairman Takano: Today We Will Finally Give Blue Water Navy Veterans The Justice They Deserve
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano praised bipartisan action on H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, ahead of a historic vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Chairman Mark Takano’s remarks as delivered can be viewed here and found below:
Watch Video From Chairman Takano’s Remarks Here.
We’re here today to right an incredible wrong-- Congress has failed our Blue Water Navy veterans. But when we go to the floor tonight to vote on the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, we can change that.
Together, we can get these veterans the benefits they earned more than 40 years ago when they were exposed to Agent Orange.
As many of you know all too well, it has been a long, hard-fought battle to secure these benefits. In the process, we’ve let Blue Water Navy veterans and their survivors experience immeasurable pain and grief due to the spraying of 12.1 million gallons of highly toxic Agent Orange in Vietnam during the war.
It was unjust then, and it is unjust now.
As Members of Congress, this fraught history comes with a responsibility. It’s our duty to leave no doubt about our Congressional intent to provide compensation and care for the injuries caused by Agent Orange exposure—and the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 is the quickest and surest way to do that. This effort is the direct results of bipartisan efforts by Ranking Member Dr. Phil Roe and myself, those members you see in attendance today, our veteran service organizations, and countless veteran voices and family members who have fought long and hard for this recognition.
By expanding benefits to the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans, veterans who served in the Korean DMZ, and children with spina bifida born to parents exposed during their service in Thailand, we can begin to make this right for the Blue Water Navy veterans and the survivors of those veterans we have already lost.
For decades, tens of thousands of veterans, their families, and survivors have been denied their earned benefits. Today, we WILL walk across this plaza, UP the steps to the House Chamber, ONTO the House floor and FINALLY get Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans the justice they deserve.
I want to thank my partner in this fight, Ranking Member Dr. Phil Roe, who’s commitment to bipartisanship brought a swift and steady handoff and paved the way for passage of H.R. 299 despite a shift in the Congressional Majority. Without him we could not have gotten this on the floor today— and I am proud that together, we can finally right this terrible wrong.
I will now recognize Ranking Member Dr. Phil Roe.