WILMINGTON, Del. – U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) joined 41 Democratic Senators in denouncing the Trump Administration for blocking critical benefits to veterans suffering from health conditions associated with their exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The letter specifically called on the Administration to stop denying scientific evidence, and end the years-long delay of adding Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, Parkinsonism, and Hypertension to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) list of service-connected presumptive conditions.
“Your Administration’s refusal to add these conditions to the presumptive list continues to deny more than 190,000 sick and aging veterans the health care and compensation they have earned and desperately need,” wrote the Senators. “More than fifty years after their service and sacrifice, these veterans continue to suffer the detrimental effects of their exposure each day. These heroes deserve more than inaction and indecision from their own government— they deserve justice.”
Since the Agent Orange Act of 1991, VA has established a presumption of service-connection for 14 diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) reports. However, in a recent report required by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations bill, VA called into question the scientific evidence put forth by the National Academies of Medicine (NAM), noting “significant concerns and limitations” in the findings of NASEM scientists. VA also cited additional requirements in the Department’s standards for presumptive conditions, delaying the consideration of care and compensation for thousands of suffering veterans.
In addition to Senators Carper and Coons, Senator Tester and Leader Schumer’s letter was signed by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tina Smith (D-Minn), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).
Read the full letter here.