Sprayed and betrayed: Veterans exposed to Agent Orange feel abandoned by VA

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Veterans descended on Bay Pines VA Medical Center Thursday to protest what they’re calling discrimination.

“Our country sent us to war and we expected them to take care of us, and they won’t do it,” said Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veteran Mike Kvintus.

Kvintus rallied in front of the VA with fellow Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans, sailors who served in Vietnam’s territorial waters, as well as personnel who served on Guam and in Thailand. All of these vets say they’ve been unfairly excluded from Agent Orange benefits and coverage.

“We’re being discriminated against,” explained Marine veteran Brian Moyer, who served on Guam.  “Agent Orange does not discriminate, the government does, it’s that simple.”

The VA stripped Agent Orange benefits from Moyer and other military personnel who were not boots on the ground in Vietnam. Those who served in Vietnam and developed certain diseases are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange and are therefore eligible for medical coverage and disability benefits.

Navy deck logs obtained by Target 8 show Mike Kvintus was on the destroyer in Da Nang harbor watching as the military sprayed Agent Orange from above. He suffers from conditions tied to Agent Orange exposure, but he was denied benefits.  The VA says his illnesses are not tied to exposure.

Through his efforts and the efforts of others, 319 members of the U.S. House of Representatives backed a bill restoring benefits to Blue Water Navy Veterans, but the bill failed to get out of committee last week.

“They can stand up and say they co-sponsored, but when we ask them for the money to fund our bill they turn their backs on us and they tells us we don’t have any funds for you,” said Kvintus.

“That tells us we are nothing more than garbage in the eyes of the government,” added Moyer.

According to testimony in Congress, we are losing an average of 523 Vietnam Veterans each day.

Veterans hope President Trump will break this impasse and sign an executive order restoring their benefits.

If you have a problem that you think should be investigated call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808.

Follow Steve Andrews on Facebook 

MORE TOP STORIES:

WFLA.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s