Weekly newsletter of the Fleet Reserve Association

June 29 2018

In this issue:
Agent Orange Bill Passes House
MCPON Retires
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 Investigation
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 Day
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 Independence Day
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.



NewsBytes is FRA's weekly legislative update. If you received this through a forward and would like to subscribe, please e-mail us  and include your name and contact information in the body of e-mail. If you are a member of FRA or LA FRA, please include your member number.

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