This past week, the final, bipartisan text of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was released and includes Representative Josh Harder’s (CA-10) Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act. Many Vietnam Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and developed particular conditions are currently unable to get certain benefits and care from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA). If passed into law, the NDAA will ensure that veterans who developed bladder cancer, Parkinsonism, or hypothyroidism as a result of their service will get access to VA benefits. In addition to writing the legislation, Harder recently led over 100 of his colleagues of both parties in demanding that leadership include the provisions in the final bill.
“This is an incredible day for veterans who have waited decades to get the care they deserve – Congress has spent years paying lip-service to vets, but thanks to our bipartisan efforts we’re putting our money where our mouth is,” said Rep. Harder. “I want to thank Senator Tester for introducing my bill in the Senate and ensuring it was included in the final version of the defense bill.”
Vietnam Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and have certain medical conditions get access to benefits and support through the VA. However, veterans with bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s-like symptoms are not included – despite comprehensive medical evidence linking these conditions to Agent Orange exposure.
Earlier this year, Rep. Harder introduced The Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act, which would ensure Vietnam Veterans with those three conditions get access to the benefits through the VA. The bill passed as an amendment to the Senate version of the annual must-pass defense bill. To become law, the final version must pass both chambers of Congress as-is and then be signed into law.
In August, Harder and the veterans organizations held a virtual press event to announce the kick off of the campaign. Following a push by Harder and Veterans organizations, over 100 members of the House – including those of both parties – joined Harder on a letter demanding that the legislation be included in the final defense bill.