Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced they are co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that would provide health care benefits to additional veterans who served decades ago in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Their bill would move the start date for the presumption of service connection to all veterans exposed to Agent Orange in the Korean Demilitarized Zone from April 1968 to September 1967. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) presumes that veterans who served in the Korean DMZ only from 1968 to 1971 were exposed to Agent Orange despite estimates that hundreds more veterans were exposed to the toxic defoliant as far back as 1967.
“This bill is urgent business for veterans suffering from Agent Orange exposure as a result of their service to our country,” Wyden said. “These veterans deserve full access to benefits and quality health care that are both needed to treat the after-effects of this toxic chemical.”
“Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange during their service to our country, and we owe them the best care possible,” Merkley said. “Evidence shows that service members were exposed to this toxin as far back as 1967, and it is a complete injustice to exclude them from necessary care. Their sacrifices should be recognized, and they deserve access to the highest quality health care benefits.”
Besides Wyden and Merkley, other Senate co-sponsors of the bill are Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Angus King (I-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
A copy of the entire bill is here.
A web version of this release is here.