BREAKING: Tester Secures His Landmark Agent Orange Veteran Exposure Bill in Final Annual Defense Legislation
Following his years-long effort, Ranking Member successfully includes amendment to deliver long-overdue benefits to more than 34,000 Vietnam veterans
(U.S. Senate) – Vietnam veterans suffering from diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange are now one step closer to receiving the care and benefits they earned from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) following the inclusion of U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s landmark bill in the final Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Tester’s amendment establishes a presumption of service connection for veterans suffering from Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism.
Tester successfully secured his Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act in the annual Senate defense bill in July, passing the chamber overwhelmingly with a vote of 94-6. In September, he led 45 Senators in urging leadership from the Senate and House Armed Services Committees to adopt his amendment in the final NDAA conference report, and repeated his call on the Senate floor.
“This is a monumental win for more than 34,000 Vietnam veterans who have been subjected to countless delays while living with debilitating illnesses associated with their exposure to Agent Orange,” said Tester. “Inclusion of my amendment in the annual defense package sends a clear message to Vietnam veterans that their service is not forgotten. I’m proud that Congress could come together to deliver on our sacred promise to these men and women, and I couldn’t be more honored to have led this fight on their behalf. It’s my hope that both the House and Senate can quickly move this bill to the President, and that he signs it into law without any delay. These Vietnam veterans have already waited long enough.”
As Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester has fought tirelessly to provide benefits for veterans suffering from diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. In 2017, the Senator led the charge to expand VA’s list of medical conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange, doubled down on his push in 2018, and later urged the Office of Management and Budget to assist the Department in this effort.
Earlier this year, Tester led 42 Senators in blasting the Administration for stonewalling critical benefits for Vietnam veterans suffering from health conditions connected with their service. He also held a roundtable discussion with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), stakeholders, and veterans’ advocates to address longstanding issues associated with the effects of toxic exposures on our nation’s servicemembers and veterans.