Weekly newsletter of the Fleet Reserve Association
June 29 2018
Agent Orange Bill Passes
Korea War Armistice Day
Expanded Agent Orange
Reform Bill Passes House
The House passed the "Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act"
(H.R.299). This bill would clarify that service members serving off the coast
of the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam conflict have a presumption for
filing disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for
ailments associated with exposure to the Agent Orange herbicide. The
presumption of exposure was afforded by the Agent Orange Act of 1991, but was
eliminated by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs' regulation in 2001 for those
who served offshore. Studies have shown that Agent Orange dioxin made its way
into the rivers and harbors and was enriched by the ships' evaporation
distillation system, causing significant exposure to those aboard.
The bill has been amended in
committee to include certain veterans that served in Korea near the
demilitarized zone and in Thailand. FRA believes Congress should recognize
these veterans were exposed to Agent Orange herbicide and authorize presumptive
status for VA disability claims associated with this exposure.
The bill now goes to the
Senate for further consideration. Members are strongly urged to use the FRA Action Center on the website to ask their Senators to
support this FRA-supported legislation.
MCPON Retires Amid
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Steven Giordano recently
resigned. His resignation comes during an ongoing inquiry by the Navy Inspector
General's office into claims he created a "toxic work environment" in
his office. According to press accounts, a complaint was filed by a member of
his own staff. MCPON Giordano's resignation leaves the MCPON position open for
the first time since the position was created. His announcement was
posted on the Navy's Facebook page but did not provide a specific date when his
resignation takes effect. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral John
Richardson acknowledged Giordano's resignation on his Facebook page. He
said, "I have accepted Master Chief Giordano's offer to step aside as the
MCPON effective immediately. I appreciate his recognition that the situation
had become untenable."
Giordano was appointed the
14th MCPON in September 2016. The position of MCPON was created by legislation
in 1966 that was strongly supported by FRA. The holder of this rank and
post is the senior enlisted member of the Navy. MCPON is appointed by the CNO
to serve as a spokesperson to the highest positions in the Navy on issues impacting
enlisted personnel. Fleet Master Chief Russell Smith will temporarily assume
the role of MCPON until a successor is appointed.
Korea War Armistice
This week marks the 65th anniversary of the armistice or truce that stopped the
Korean conflict fighting in 1953. President Obama issued a Presidential
proclamation honoring those Americans who served in this three-year-long
struggle that allowed 50 million South Koreans to live in a free and vibrant
democracy. The Korean conflict, sometimes referred to as "the forgotten
war," started when communist North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25,
1950. The United States suffered more than 35,000 combat deaths during
the conflict. FRA salutes veterans of the Korean Conflict, including
Representative Sam Johnson (Tex.).
FRA NHQ Closed on
Congress will not be in session next week. The next issue of NewsBytes will be
July 13, 2018. FRA's National Headquarters (NHQ) offices will be closed on
Wednesday, July 4, and Thursday July 5 in observance of Independence Day. NHQ
staff would like to wish all FRA Shipmates a fun and safe 4th of July.