At SVAC Hearing, Blumenthal Reiterates Call For Increased Support For Veterans, Families Effected By Toxic Exposure

WASHINGTON – Today, during a U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (SVAC) hearing on the impact of toxic exposure on veterans and their families, Ranking Member Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced legislation introduced last Friday that would reduce the burden on veterans’ seeking benefits for illnesses caused by exposure to Agent Orange. S. 2081 would extend U.S Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) authority to update the health conditions that are associated with Agent Orange as they are discovered.

“The passion and urgency of this issue has to be understood by our nation…it affects veterans of every era,” said Ranking Member Blumenthal at the hearing. “There may be new toxic substances and chemicals on the battlefield, but the principle is the same – that anybody in the vicinity of combat can be exposed to this type of insidious and pernicious chemical harm and future generations bear the burden.”


“Congress and the country have simply chosen to look the other way. Whether it is Agent Orange or the chemicals in the water that you processed, or the depleted uranium pollutants from burn pits, or nerve gas in unexposed ordinates found on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan, our men and women in uniform have suffered and they continue to suffer and their children and grandchildren will suffer.”


“I believe this nation has an obligation that it has shirked unwisely and unforgivably. I am determined that we will move more quickly with the measures that have been proposed to remedy this issue and with others that I intend to introduce.”


S. 2081 is supported by the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), with BVA Government Relations Committee Chairman Thomas Zampieri writing on behalf of the Association, stating, “The BVA supports your continued leadership to improve health care for our veterans and family members impacted by toxic exposures and supports S. 2081 bill to extend authorities for the Secretary VA ability to expand presumption of service connection for compensation for diseases determined to be associated with exposure to herbicide agents or other toxic agents.”

Also reviewed at the hearing was legislation introduced by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Blumenthal in March. ‎S. 901, The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 would enable continued research into and greater understanding of the link between toxic exposure and the resulting health effects, specifically the impact on the descendants of those exposed. Currently, many of the symptoms from toxic exposure are misdiagnosed in descendants of veterans because of a lack of understanding and scientific proof.

The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 would direct VA to select a VA medical center to serve as the national center for research on the diagnosis and treatment of exposure-related health conditions of the biological children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren of individuals exposed to toxic substances during their time in service. The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 is supported by the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), AMVETS, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Rolling Thunder, Disabled American Veterans, and Paralyzed American Veterans.