BILLINGS- It comes decades too late for some— but U.S. Navy veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War are finally getting some help. And both Montana senators played a part in making it happen.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 passed the U.S. Senate Wednesday and is now headed to President Trump’s desk.
That act changes the current law to guarantee that veterans who served off the shores of Vietnam can get access to healthcare and benefits. Currently, those benefits only apply to those who served inside the country.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 will:
- Expand the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam.
- Extend presumption of Agent Orange exposure to veterans who served in or near the Korean demilitarized zone.
- Provide benefits to children of Vietnam veterans who served in Thailand and were born with spina bifida.
“Today’s victory was hard fought and hard won, by brave servicemembers who returned home from Vietnam only to find their country couldn’t give them the treatment and benefits they desperately needed and earned,” said Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana was one of the sponsors of the bill.
The bill already passed unanimously in the House but was held up in December when Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., objected because of the costs.