Working 4 You: Proposed Law Change for Agent Orange Exposure

LITTLE ROCK, Ark - In a Working 4 You follow up, Republican Arkansas Senator John Boozman proposed a law change lst week to extend benefits to Vietnam Veterans who served in Thailand and may have been exposed to toxic chemicals like Agent Orange. 

Senator Boozman is co-sponsoring the bill with Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, a Democrat. 

In July, KARK's Marci Manley sat down with Veterans who told her the way the law is worded now has caused the VA to deny their benefit claims.

After fighting for nearly three years to get a law change introduced, they now face the uphill battle of getting the bill passed. 

These Thailand Vietnam Veterans have been going through benefit claims and denials for years. Many of them are afraid they will die before making it through the process. They are hoping more co-sponsors will sign on and that people will give their congressmen and women a call to voice support. 

Arkansas Vietnam Veteran Bill Rhodes was instrumental in getting this law introduced. With just a high school education, he sat down, went through the law, and realized there were tweaks to the law that could extend benefits to veterans currently battling the system.

He was just an average joe, who saw a problem and pushed for a fix. Many of these vets say they're experiencing serious health conditions that keep them from working and that has caused stress and financial problems for their families. 

For some that's even resulted in serious medical conditions for their kids, which they believe is all tied to Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals used during the war. As it is now because they didn't serve on the perimeter of the bases the VA recognizes have been exposed, these veterans receive limited or no benefits to help. 

This law change would extend the exposure presumption to all vets who served on Thailand Bases where herbicide exposure is presumed. 

"I hope everybody will get behind us and help get this legislation pushed through. The thing that it will do is help thousands of veterans," Bill Rhodes, Vietnam Veteran who served in Thailand said. 

This bill would also offer benefits to these Veteran's Children if they were born with Spina Bifida, which has been linked to herbicide exposure. 

Bill supporters have already reached out to lawmakers in 31 states or so far and they're asking other to do the same in hopes the bill can garner additional support to pass. 


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