Agent Orange Benefits Act
wccd at u.washington.edu
wccd at u.washington.edu
Mon Aug 26 10:54:05 PDT 1996
Here is some information that I thought might interest many of you. This
is off of the Spina Bifida Association of America home page.
The Spina Bifida Association of America
The Agent Orange Benefits Act of 1996
LEGISLATIVE ACTION ALERT
AUGUST 6, 1996
The purpose of this letter is to update you on the status of the
legislation that was crafted to provide service connected benefits to
children with spina bifida, as a result of their father's exposure to
Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
During these past two months, SBAA has been working vigorously with
Congressional staff, the Department of Veterans Affairs and national
disability and veteran service organizations to ensure legislation that is
drafted provides a comprehensive benefits package for the children and
their families. SBAA has spent hundreds of hours on this issue and had an
opportunity to review a draft of the legislation prior to the introduction
of the legislation in the House and Senate.
For those of you unfamiliar with this important piece of
legislation, the following is a very brief summary of how this bill was
developed. On March 14, 1996, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced
there is new limited or suggestive evidence to show an association between
spina bifida inchildren of Vietnam veterans and exposure to Agent Orange
during the Vietnam war.
The National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine (NAS/IOM)
had recently evaluated scientific data showing a correlation between spina
bifida and veteran parent's exposure to Agent Orange. This study appears
to be the first unbiased analysis of the genetic health effects of
On May 28, President Clinton, based on the results of the NAS
findings, recommended to Congress that legislation be written to provide
benefits to children born with spina bifida as a result of their father's
exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam war. "This is the first time
in history that offspring of American soldiers could receive benefits for
combat related health problems," stated President Clinton.
Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Congressman Lane Evans (D-IL)are the
champions behind this legislation. The legislation has beennamed the
Agent Orange Benefits Act of 1996.
WHAT DOES THE LEGISLATION ENTAIL?
The Agent Orange Benefits Act of 1996 would include the following:
A. HEALTH CARE
Provide comprehensive health care to the children of Vietnam
veterans through, but not limited to spina bifida clinics, health care
plans, insurers, organizations, institutions, and other entities, yet to
be defined. Under the term health care, the following services will be
provided, home care, hospital care, nursing home care, outpatient care,
preventive care, habilitative and rehabilitative care, case management,
respite care, and the training of appropriate members of a child's family
or household in the care of the child and provision of such
pharmaceuticals, supplies, equipment, devices, appliances, ASSISTIVE
TECHNOLOGY and direct transportation costs to and from approved sources of
authorized health care.
B. MONTHLY ALLOWANCE
A monthly allowance based on the degree of disability will be
provided. The allowance shall be $200 per month for the lowest level of
disability, $700 per month for the intermediate level of disability, and
$1,200 per month for the highest level of disability. The criteria for
each category have not beendetermined. The allowance paid to each child
shall not be consideredincome orresources in determining eligibility for
or the amount of benefits underany Federal or federally assisted program.
C. VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION
Vocational training will be provided as part of this package.
Vocational training shall consist of such vocationally oriented services
and assistance, including such placement and post placement services and
personal and work adjustment training.
STATUS OF AGENT ORANGE BENEFITS ACT OF 1996
SBAA is pleased to report that on Friday, August 2, 1996 the Agent
OrangeBenefits Act of 1996 was introduced in both chambers of Congress!!
Senator Tom Daschle introduced the Agent Orange Benefits Act of
1996 as a free standing bill in the Senate. There were approximately 20
co-sponsors and tremendous support for the bill, especially from the
Democratic members.The bills in the House and Senate wereidentical. There
were no floor voteson either bill.
As you are aware, very little time remains in the current
Congressional session, and because this legislation is so vital and we
desire action in this session of Congress, Senator Daschle is going to
introduce the Agent Orange Benefits Act of 1996 as an amendment to the
FY97 VA-HUD appropriations bill on September 3, 1996 to be voted on
September 4, 1996. The VA-HUD appropriations bill was acted on at
committee level, but not on the full Senate floor.
If the amendment is accepted then it will become part of the FY97
VA-HUD Appropriations bill and when the appointed House and Senate
conferees go to conference on VA-HUD appropriations, the amendment will be
on the table for discussion. In this situation placing the Agent Orange
Benefits Act of 1996 as an amendment to the FY97 VA-HUD Appropriation bill
is a more efficient vehicle towards passage and enactment than a
freestanding bill, especially since little time remains in this
The free standing bills would fade away if the amendment makes it
on to the FY97VA-HUD Appropriations bill. However, if Senator Dashcle's
amendment does not make it on to the FY97-VA-HUD Appropriations bill, then
the free standing bills will be the vehicle for later passage and
enactment. Unfortunately, the process would then be much slower and we
will likely be looking toward the next session of Congress to re-introduce
the free standing bills,eventual passage and enactment.
STRATEGY-WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
1. PRIORITY NO. 1
Contact and visit your U.S. Senators Office and urge him/her to
support Senator Daschle's amendment to the FY 97 VA-HUD Appropriations
If a member of the Senate VA-HUD appropriations sub-committee
represents your district, contact and visit him/her and ask them to
support Senator Daschle's amendment to the FY 97 VA-HUD
2. PRIORITY NO. 2-CO-SPONSORSHIP of FREE-STANDING BILL
Contact both your U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives
and ask them to become immediate co-sponsors of the Agent Orange
Benefits Act of 1996. The Senate Bill is S-2008, and they should
contact Senator Daschle at 202-224-2321. The House Bill is HR-3927
and they should contact Cong. Lane Evans at 202-225-5905.
3. CONGRESSIONAL RECESS
Congress is in recess during the month of August and most
legislators are in their local district/office. Go visit them.
Schedule and appointment. Bring a copy of the SBAA Resolution.
Personal visits and phone calls are the most effective means of
being heard. Call your Representative's in their home office as
well as in their Washington, DC office. When calling your
Representatives office, ask for the staff member handling Veterans
issues and/or appropriations issues.
Unless we act quickly, we may have to wait yet another year for an
opportunity to present our case. SBAA realizes there is much
information contained on these two pages. Please call Roberta
Carlin at SBAA for further explanation. If you would like a copy of
the Agent Orange Benefits Act, please call the office.
On behalf of SBAA and its members, we appreciate your support and
Spina Bifida Association of America
Whereas, the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine
has concluded, based on high quality epidemiological studies, that there
is an association between Vietnam veterans' exposure to dioxin during
service in Vietnam and an increased prevalence of spina bifida in their
Whereas, the President of the United States and the Secretary of
the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have recommended that the U.S.
Congress enact legislation remedying the harm to Vietnam veterans'
children with spina bifida associated with such exposure, and
Whereas, Vietnam veterans' children with spina bifida have
individualized needs related to their primary and secondary conditions
including, but not limited to, needs in the areas of health care, income,
education, rehabilitation, employment, personal and home care services,
adapted housing, and adaptive transportation,and
Whereas, veterans with disabilities connected to their service in
the U.S. armed forces, including conditions associated with their exposure
to dioxin, are eligible for a wide range of benefits and services designed
to meet their needs in each of the above areas,
Therefore, Be it resolved that the Spina Bifida Association of
America strongly urge the U.S. Congress to enact legislation which ensures
that Vietnamveterans' children with spina bifida are provided compensatory benefits
and services designed to meet their individualized needs, and
Be it further resolved that such legislation mandate the provision
of benefits and services that are comparable in scope and substance to
those provided to Vietnam veterans with service connected disabilities,
Be it further resolved that the Spina Bifida Association of America
seek to coordinate and collaborate with the U.S. Congress, the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Alliance of Veteran Family
Service Organizations, and other appropriate entities in an effort to
ensure that such benefits and services are designed and administered in a
manner thatbest meets the unique needs of Vietnam veterans' children with spina
Adopted this 22nd day of June, 1996.
More information about the Wash-at