I invite you to stand with America’s Vietnam veterans and cosponsor H.R. 809, the Fighting for Orange-Stricken Territories in the Eastern Region (FOSTER) Act.
Earlier this year, a local television news station in Florida aired a story about an Air Force veteran, who while stationed at Andersen Air Force Base during the Vietnam War, sprayed, on average, two to three trailers full of Agent Orange on a daily basis. Today, this veteran has over thirty diseases, several cancers, and his own grandchild was born with twenty-four fingers and toes. All of these horrible afflictions have been associated with exposure to Agent Orange.
In the ensuing weeks, I heard from several other veterans around the country regarding their experience with Agent Orange and other dangerous herbicides on the island of Guam. Since the end of the war, the Department of Defense (DOD) has acknowledged using Agent Orange in Vietnam and Thailand, but not Guam. Because the territory of Guam is not on the acknowledged list, veterans who served there are not eligible for expanded VA benefits for those afflicted with Agent Orange-connected diseases and disabilities.
For this reason, I introduced the FOSTER Act to change the code and expand presumption to these veterans. Under H.R. 809, veterans who served during the Vietnam War on the islands of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa, and in the territorial seas of Vietnam are granted presumptive coverage for cancers and diseases the VA has associated with exposure to Agent Orange and other dangerous herbicides.
America’s veterans are the backbone of the freedom and prosperity America has enjoyed for more than two hundred years, and I refuse to let their sacrifices and service go undervalued and unnoticed. Turning our backs on them is truly un-American, bottom line. These men and women risked their lives to protect our freedom. We owe them a debt we can never truly repay.