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Vietnam vets

December 4, 2020 - 1:24pm
posted by Press Release in Charles Schumer, news, Vietnam vets.

Press release:

After successfully securing in July an amendment to the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which expanded the list of diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today (Dec. 4) announced that the final version of the FY2021 NDAA will include his amendment.

It authorizes $8 billion in new benefits for vets suffering from Agent Orange-linked illnesses.

Schumer explained that upon the president’s signature, nearly 240,000 veterans around the state who might be suffering from bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism will be able to access healthcare and benefits, numbers that have expanded because of the senator’s amendment associating additional diseases with exposure to Agent Orange. Schumer originally launched this push from Rochester.

“After years and years of suffering and fighting, I proudly stood shoulder to shoulder with our Finger Lakes Vietnam vets who were exposed to Agent Orange to get Congress to take a major step forward and grant our heroes access to the medical care they need and have earned,” Senator Schumer said.

“It’s taken far too long, and we still need to see this change signed into law, but veterans across the country can celebrate today as a victory. We will work together to get this across the finish line in the very near future so those who put their lives on the line for our freedom can get the healthcare they deserve.

“I’m especially proud today to have expanded access to this incoming influx of benefits by securing an amendment that adds bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism to the list of diseases associated with Agent Orange. Our veterans, like those in the Finger Lakes, did not hesitate in the face of danger to fight for our country, and we must not nickel and dime them as they fight for their health now.”

The senator has fought for years to not only secure funding for Agent Orange-affected veterans’ health benefits, but also to increase the number of veterans who have access to those benefits.

Earlier this year, Schumer was in the Finger Lakes to unveil his plan to add an expansion of the illnesses associated with exposure to "Agent Orange" to the NDAA. The senator has also visited Staten Island, Long Island, Utica, Dunkirk, Wallkill and Albany to meet with Vietnam vets and advocate for an expansion of the associated illnesses list.

Schumer said that the nation’s Vietnam veterans – over 240,000 of which are in New York – who were exposed to "Agent Orange," have been calling on the feds to expand the list of diseases associated with the herbicide exposure.

“I am proud to have helped our Vietnam vets cut through bureaucratic red-tape and with only the president’s signature needed, New York’s vets are closer than ever to getting the medial access they deserve,” Schumer said.

He emphasized the importance of adding added bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism to the list of diseases associated with "Agent Orange" exposure, and reiterated just how long this fight has been waged.

Last year, the Senator secured a provision in the budget deal requiring OMB and the VA to issue a detailed report to Congress on the delay in adding these conditions to the presumptive conditions list, BUT the report was woefully insufficient and Schumer said those agencies failed to properly explain why they were denying veterans.

In addition to the failure to include bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism on the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list, the VA has never acted on a 2018 National Academies report that found sufficient evidence of association between exposure to herbicides and hypertension.

Schumer also explained that per the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the VA automatically accepts that if a Vietnam Veteran physically served in Vietnam between January 1962 and May 1975, it is probable that the veteran was exposed to an herbicide agent like Agent Orange.

Furthermore, the Act established a list of “presumed” diseases that the VA stipulates are caused by Agent Orange exposure. Therefore, if a veteran served in Vietnam at any time between 1962-1975 and is diagnosed with one or more of the diseases VA recognizes as service connected, the VA will compensate the veteran and his or her family.

However, even though there has been scientific evidence linking Parkinsonism, bladder cancer and hypothyroidism to Agent Orange exposure, they are not currently on the VA’s list of recognized presumptive conditions.

Schumer said if an Agent Orange-related condition isn’t specifically listed on the presumptive conditions list then the VA forces the suffering veterans and their families to argue their claim in a lengthy, bureaucratic appeals process that can last years and often end in a denial. In many cases the veteran will die before the process is even concluded.

Schumer said veterans shouldn’t have to wage their own war to gather the scientific facts and medical opinions about hypothyroidism in order to receive the care and benefits needed to treat the illnesses they contracted because they served our nation.

Schumer said that is absolutely crucial that thousands of Vietnam-era veterans in New York State receive the healthcare benefits they need and deserve, and final passage of his amendment in the NDAA will allow that to happen.

June 22, 2019 - 1:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Baby Boomers, the '60s, Vietnam vets, history, batavia, nostalgia.

Anne Marie Starowitz, right, and her friend Cathy in July 1968.

Submitted photos and story by Anne Marie Starowitz:

By definition, a Baby Boomer is a person born during a period of time in which there is a marked rise in a population's birthrate: a person born during a baby boom; especially -- a person born in the United States following the end of World War II (usually considered to be in the years from 1946 to 1964).

That is the Webster's Dictionary definition. But it doesn’t adequately define a Baby Boomer.

I am a Baby Boomer along with my high school and college graduating classes of 1968 and 1972. There are a lot of us and our memories growing up during that time are very special.

We grew up in a world that was so different from the one our grandchildren are growing up in. We all heard about going home when the street lights came on, houses with the doors unlocked, and just playing outside.

In the summer we slept out in tents, caught fireflies, and swam at the community pool.

A telephone was attached to the wall. If you were lucky, you would have a long cord so you could stretch the cord into a closet or another room. There was no call waiting and rare was the household with an answering machine.

Fast forward to today's smartphone and see how technology has changed.

I loved the music of the '60s. A few had their very own transistor (AM) radio. You could walk around with it but the reception was usually terrible.

I remember playing kickball in our front yard every day. In the summer, the park program was the place to be. Everyone had their favorite park that was usually located in your own neighborhood. Of course, the highlight was the park parade.

The Memorial Day parade was always a really special event. There would be the fire trucks, Little League players, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts walking down Main Street. There would be convertibles with our veterans that served in the early wars.

I always remember the Army tanks and jeeps going down Main Street and the feeling it brought seeing them. You also couldn’t wait for the Mighty St. Joseph Drum & Bugle Corps marching down the street.

It wouldn’t be Memorial Day if we didn’t go to the cemetery and walk to every gravestone that belonged to a relative. I would see my aunt and uncles, cousins standing by our grandfather's and grandmother's graves.

In the mid '60s there were tennis court dances and, in the winter, there was ice skating on the tennis courts. Also, in the summer the local churches would hold their annual lawn fete. We always looked forward to them. A Baby Boomer could drink at 18 and the lawn fetes had the best beer tents.

My memories were filled with a time of change. It seemed every generation was associated with a war. My uncle John was in the Korean War; my father in World War II; we were associated with the Vietnam War.

I remember being in college and there was the talk of classmates being drafted. That changed many lives as my college classmates said goodbye to their boyfriends and husbands.

There were protests against the war and I remember marching down Main Street in Buffalo. We wore bracelets of soldiers who were POWs (prisoners of war) or were MIA (missing in action) from the Vietnam War. We never understood why we were over there, and most of all we never understood when our vets were not honored or remembered like the other war veterans once they returned home.

My father told all of us how difficult it was growing up when he did. How many jobs he did and the best story was about the long walk to school in the snow and rain every day and going home for lunch.

Today this Baby Boomer treasures those memories along with my memories growing up during a much slower time, filled with our music, the Beatles, our dances -- the Twist, the Jerk, the Mashed Potato, the Pony, the Swim, the Boogaloo, Watusi and more.

(To view a YouTube compilation of '60s dances, click here.)

I tried to tell our daughters what it was like back then and now I see our daughters telling their children what it was like, their music, the fashion, and the war associated with them growing up.

Technology has changed our world and our children and their children.

All I really remember as a Baby Boomer was we didn't use the word "bored" because we really weren't bored.

Our music was played on a hi-fi system and we actually danced to a band in high school that just might have been your brother’s band.

I wouldn’t change a thing growing up as a Baby Boomer except honoring our Vietnam vets more.

Please share your Baby Boomer memories. They just might be similar to mine.

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