Support Blue Water Navy Vietnam vets

Mike Yates

I would like to ask everyone reading this to be and other veterans a big favor. We need you to contact the White House at www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ or phone 855-948-2311 in support of Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans.

Here is some history: In 1993, a bill passed in Congress called the Agent Orange Act of 1993, giving Veterans Administration benefits to Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans suffering from certain diseases; this list has been updated. In 2002 the General Consul of the VA ruled that Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans didn’t qualify for these benefits. Since then, they have been fighting to get these benefits back.

You may ask why this is important. Veterans like myself who served on ships while serving in Vietnam were actually exposed to a higher level of the dioxin that is in Agent Orange than their fellow veterans who served as “boots on the ground.” This is due to the fact that the distillations system used on the ships actually enhanced the dioxins instead of removing them. This has lead to many of these veterans suffering from diseases related to Agent Orange exposure: prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, heart problems, COPD, emphysema and skin cancer. Right now there is a Bill in Congress called the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R.299 and S.422) that would cover use. We have 75 percent of Congress supporting the bill, yet we can’t get the bill brought to the floor for a vote because they do not have a way to fund the bill. The cost of the bill is around $1 billion over 10 years. Now to add insult to injury, our own government has spent over $1.1 billion cleaning Vietnam of Agent Orange.

I am asking everyone reading this to please first contact the White House and ask them to find the money to fund the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R.299 & S.422) and please share this letter. We are also looking into taking our case to the Supreme Court. We will be making the final decision after May 5, 2018. Due to this we are looking for donations to help with our cost. If you are willing to donate (tax deductible) please go to www.bwnvva.org/membership.html and donate (tax deductible) online or you can send a check to: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association, 8651 John J. Kingman Road, Suite #206, Fort Belvoir, VA 22060. If you are a veteran or a family member of a veteran, please feel free to join us on our Blue Water Navy Association Facebook Page.

Mike Yates is the national commander of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association. Email commander@bluewaternavy.org

Court ruling may worsen school board tensions

Elisabeth Munson

Grove City

Perhaps Judge McEwen couldn’t have done anything differently, but the ruling in his courtroom on March 15th will likely make tensions on the Grove City school board worse. I attended board meetings for one full year, during which time I saw Carolyn Oppenheimer repeatedly verbally harassed and called names, often by multiple board members. This seemed to be for no reason other than her dissenting viewpoint. Personally, I appreciate that she tries to fulfill her duties as a board member and be faithful to her oath of office, even when it puts her in the line of fire.

I have known Carolyn for around 10 years and have never seen her behave mean-spiritedly — impulsively, perhaps, but not with rancor toward others. Because of the ruling, Carolyn will be subject to just as much abuse as in the past, if not more.

While the judge surely did not intend to get involved in school board politics, his ruling has contributed to polarizing the board and even our community. While perhaps the only ruling he could have made, justice was not served on March 15th. What board members learned in court is that they are free to harass verbally, free to behave disrespectfully, and free to bring false charges, all of which they can then use to lay a financial burden on the opposing party. The law gave the bully a wink and nod, while handing the victim the bill and the prospect of more grief to come.