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Press Releases

VVA Press Releases come out of the office of the VVA Communications Director, Mokie Porter.  Questions should be directed to VVA at 301-996-0961 or mporter@vva.org


September 19, 2018  No. 18-22

Mokie Porter 

VVA Urges Congress to Take ActionHelp us Keep Our Promise to Our Afghan Military Allies

(Washington, D.C.)—“Today, Vietnam Veterans of America, along with four veterans service organizations, urged Congress to take action to grant asylum to our Aghan military allies whose lives are in danger as a result of their loyal service to our nation’s military,” said John Rowan, VVA National President.

“Since the founding of our nation, immigrants have played a vital role in the U.S military, and they’ve been a tremendous part of what makes America great -- one only needs to see the number of immigrants whose names are etched into the black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial,” said Rowan. “After recent reports of a purge of immigrants from the military and the bureaucratic strangling of service-for-citizenship programs, the time has come for to fix this mess, once and for all.”

In a letter sent to members of the House and Senate, Vietnam Veterans of America--together with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, High Ground Advocacy, Veterans for American Ideals, and No one Left Behind--called on members of Congress to allocate four thousand visas through the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program, for those who served alongside U.S. troops at great personal risk. The Congress has the opportunity to allocate the visas in the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2019, which may be passed in the coming weeks. 

In 2009 Congress passed the Afghan Allies Protection Act. The visas allotted in the act allowed wartime allies in Afghanistan to resettle in the United States. The Afghan program has consistently been amended and extended in order to provide haven to those supporting the ongoing mission in Afghanistan. In the last three years, Congress has authorized 10,500 more visas for Afghan wartime allies, either through the National Defense Authorization Act, or the Consolidated Appropriations Act. 

Last month Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) called for an additional four thousand visas in a letter to Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL)-and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC).


IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 1, 2018                    No. 19

Mokie Porter
301-996-0901 - mporter@vva.org

Justice and Science Demand Passage of the Blue Water Navy Act,
and Passage of the Dental Care Eligibility Act,
VVA Tells Senate Veterans Committee

(Washington, DC)—“The passage of The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Actby the Senate will correct a long-standing wrong,” said John Rowan, VVA National President. In testimony today before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, VVA testified that “when signed into law, this bipartisan legislation will reverse the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 2002 decision, which prevented Blue Water Navy veterans and those veterans who served near the DMZ in Korea and in bases in Thailand from claiming presumptive status if they suffer with diseases associated with herbicide exposure.
 
“Justice delayed is justice denied. Congress must delay no further and acknowledge that it is as likely as not these veterans were exposed to herbicides and should be accorded presumptive service connection for their disability claims,” said Rowan. “The scientific evidence links Agent Orange and other herbicides to life-threatening health conditions such as ischemic heart disease, various cancers, Type II diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease,” said Rowan. “A study by the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) found the route to exposure of ships in the South China Sea to be biologically plausible. We believe such exposure has also led to birth defects, learning disabilities, and other health issues in the progeny of Vietnam veterans.”
 
Also pending before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee is the Veterans Dental Care Eligibility Expansion and Enhancement Act, which calls for the VA to carry out a pilot program “to assess the feasibility and advisability of furnishing dental services and treatment to enrolled veterans who currently are not eligible for such services and treatment.” This bill also calls for the VA to initiate a program to educate veterans on the importance of dental health, a program that illustrates the association between dental health and overall health and well-being. “If this pilot project proves successful, as we believe it will, the introduction of dental services for veterans who have a disability rating of less than 100 percent will have a positive effect on their overall health and wellness,” Rowan said.


IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 6, 2018                    No. 14

Mokie Porter  mporter@vva.org
301-996-0901  

VVA: Mission Act Falls Short  

(Washington, D.C)—“In light of the June 4 Government Accountability report on the Veterans Choice Program, we are concerned that The VA Mission Act, the $55 billion spending package, which awaits the president’s signature, will fall short of accomplishing its intended goals,” said John Rowan, VVA National President.
“While we applaud aspects of the bill which serve the needs of  our veterans today, of grave concern is the GAO’s finding that the Veterans Health Administration and the VA Medical Centers are not able to respond to the needs of the Choice Program because of ‘inadequacies of networks, geographic distribution, and insufficient numbers of community providers,’ ” noted Rowan.
“Allocating a mere 120 days for the development of regulations to guide the implementation of this massive and complicated overhaul is irrational and unrealistic,” said Rowan. The illusive “oversight” promised with Choice is still not in place. The VA’s antiquated IT infrastructure does not allow communication with organizations within the VA, let alone outside entities, such as the community providers described in The Mission Act.
“Will Congress still retain authority over this proposed shadow healthcare delivery system? Oversight with accountability is not spelled out to our satisfaction in this legislation,” noted Rowan. “Who will be responsible? How will it be accomplished? Will HIPPA affect the exchange of information called for in the legislation? What are the penalties for violation of standards of care, malpractice, accreditation, and credentialing of private providers, waste, fraud and abuse?”
Capacity, as noted in the GAO Report, is a major concern. “How many veterans will actually receive care?” said Rowan. “Expanding the scope of the programs and services of Choice without a firm foundation is a recipe for disaster which will ultimately cheat veterans out of the health care they have earned and deserve. We stand ready to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Administration to address the shortfalls.”

VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 11, 2018 No. 10

Mokie Porter 

301-996-0901

mporter@vva.org

VVA Condemns Disrespect of Vietnam Veteran John McCain

(Washington, D.C)--“The recent comments about Senator McCain from Kelly Sadler and Thomas McInerney are profoundly disrespectful and offensive, and they both ought to be ashamed,” said John Rowan, President of Vietnam Veterans of America. “After serving his country in a time of war, refusing release as a POW without his comrades, and then dedicating his life to public service, John McCain deserves far better than to be insulted in this way -- especially from a White House official and a fellow veteran.”

Yesterday, the White House did not dispute Sadler's comments, that Senator McCain “[doesn't] matter,” because “he's dying anyway,” nor did the White House announce any action to show that these comments crossed the line.

Former Fox News military analyst Thomas McInerney falsely claimed yesterday that torture “worked” on Senator McCain, and this is demonstrably untrue. McInerney has a long history of spreading false information and lies, and despite this, was still given an opportunity to amplify his preposterous views on television.

“When someone in the White House says a Vietnam veteran doesn’t matter, because he’s dying of brain cancer, that individual should have his employment terminated. There are thousands of Vietnam veterans going through the same health issues related to Agent Orange, and their families are suffering with them,” said Rowan. “As an organization, we have had our disagreements with Senator McCain, but he will always be one of our brothers. What Sadler and McInerney have said will not be forgotten, as it reveals an incredible lack of respect for the service and sacrifice of every veteran, and their relationships with the White House and Fox News should be severed immediately.”

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”


IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 3, 2018   No. 9

Mokie Porter  301-996-0901  mporter@vva.org

VVA Calls for More Action on Military Base Toxic Exposures
 

(Washington, D.C)--“While we are deeply disturbed to learn that the water at over 100 military installations might have potentially harmful levels of perfluorinated compounds, which have been linked to cancers and development delays for fetuses and infants, we are not surprised,” said John Rowan, Vietnam Veterans of America National President. “It has long been VVA’s contention that many of the bases in the United States are polluted, causing serious health risks for those who have lived there.”

“We applaud Secretary of Defense Mattis for his initiative in releasing the March 2018 report, ‘Addressing Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoi Acid (PFOA),’ which outlines the full magnitude of the presence of PFOS and PFOA in drinking water and groundwater on our military bases and identifies 401 active and Base Closure and Realignment installations in the United States with at least one area where there was a known or suspected release of perfluorinated compounds.
 
“We strongly urge the President and his advisors to consider the effects of these toxic exposures on military service members and their families, and we ask them to hasten the safety changes being made at affected bases and to fully fund and support the research being conducted between DoD and Centers for Disease Control on the long-term effects of these exposures. To do otherwise would undermine those promises made in good faith to our troops and stain the integrity of our great nation,” said Rowan.
 
“For Vietnam veterans, it’s déjà vu all over again. We are thankful for the support of the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), which has allowed VVA and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) to come together in partnership to ensure that our Post-9/11 veterans don’t have to wait a lifetime for government to make good on its promise to care for those injured in defense of our Constitution and their families. This partnership with WWP and TAPS allows VVA to share lessons learned and advocate for our younger veterans and their families,” said Rowan.


IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 26, 2018                    No. 8

Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

VVA President to USA President:

Please Don’t Rush to Judgment for Next Nominee

(Washington, D.C.) –“Now would be an excellent time for the President to seek input from the congressionally chartered veterans’ service organizations before naming his next nominee to lead the VA, a department that is critical to the health and well-being of all veterans and our families,” said John Rowan, VVA National President. “As always, VVA stands ready to work with the President to better assist and care for our veterans of every generation.”

“VVA suggests caution in moving forward with the unfettered privatization of VA health care. This concept was roundly discounted in the 2016 report of the Republican Congress’s Commission on Care as being extremely costly and impractical. This would be to the detriment of the millions of veterans who receive very good to excellent care at their VA medical center or community-based outpatient clinic,” Rowan concluded.
VVA looks forward to working with the Administration and the President to help achieve the very best medical care, as well as the most effective benefits and services for all veterans in the coming years.


IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 26, 2018                    No. 7

Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

VVA President to the President: 
(Washington, D.C.)
 – “We are disturbed to learn that Iraqi and Afghani interpreters who worked alongside our troops through our nation’s longest wars are being prevented from entering the United States,” John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, said one year ago. “Today, if anything, their situation has become that much more precarious after so many months of inaction.

 “As Al Qaeda, Isis, and the Taliban have continued to target civilians who have cooperated with Coalition forces, interpreters and their families are at particular risk,” Rowan said. “President Trump's blanket ban on immigration from Iraq and Afghanistan makes these men and women easy targets and condemns them to lead lives of imminent peril.
 
“We must fulfill our promise to Iraqi and Afghani nationals who served alongside our troops. We promised them safe harbor, because this is a moral necessity and because it sends a clear message that America keeps promises to our allies.
 
“We strongly urge the President and his advisors to reconsider the effects that this ban on Iraqi and Afghani interpreters will have on our long-term strategic goals, and to immediately create an exception for foreign nationals who have served alongside our men and women,” said Rowan. “To do otherwise undermines promises made in good faith by our troops and stains the integrity of our great nation.”


March 28, 2018                    No. 18-6

Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

VVA On VA Secretary Shulkin’s Departure
 

(Washington, DC) –Statement by John Rowan, VVA National President, on the firing of VA Secretary Shulkin:
 
“VA Secretary David Shulkin has shown grace under fire amid the long-circulated rumors of his imminent departure, confirmed today by the President’s twitter bomb at 5:31 EST: ‘I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs.’ 
 
“We are grateful to VA Secretary David Shulkin for his service to our nation’s veterans and his firm stance to protect the Department of Veterans Affairs from those who would like to see it handed over to the for-profit, private-sector health systems. Despite the pressure, he has never veered from his mission to care for our nation’s veterans while tackling the revitalization of the VA.  Secretary David Shulkin will be missed.
 
“We look forward to an equally productive relationship with Dr. Ronny Jackson. We are pleased that he is a combat veteran with firsthand knowledge of the trauma of war, and as such, will understand what our veterans need.”


IMMEDIATE

RELEASE

March 23, 2018                    No. 18-4

Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

Veterans with Bad Paper Discharges to Get
Mental Health Screening and Care from the VA

[Washington, DC] -- Following the announcement last night of the final text of the omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, said: "We at VVA owe a debt of gratitude to Senators Murphy, Tester, and Schatz, and Congressmen O’Rourke and Coffman – and to Secretary Shulkin – for fighting to ensure that veterans with a bad-paper discharge despite otherwise honorable service will finally receive the VA services that they so desperately need.

"For far too long we've heard from veterans who were denied help from the VA for a lifetime because of an administrative separation. A key provision of the omnibus will help these veterans, from the Vietnam War to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as to future conflicts,” Rowan said. “Once enacted, this legislation will save untold lives of countless forgotten heroes."

Language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act taken from Congressman Coffman’s H.R. 918, the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act and Senator Murphy and Congressman O’Rourke’sHonor Our Commitment Act, S. 699/H.R. 1685 will entitle veterans administratively separated with another-than-honorable discharge who have served at least 100 days on active duty, were deployed in atheater of combat operations or in support of combat operations, or were in an area in which hostilities were occurring; who suffered a physical assault or battery of a sexual nature or experienced Military Sexual Trauma; or served as a drone operator, to mental and behavioral health screening and care. In
cases which a VA clinician deems therapeutically appropriate, or for those veterans who live far from VA healthcare facilities, the VA can allow them to obtain care and treatment from qualified non-VA providers.

To reach out to these veterans not later than 180 days after they’ve been discharged, the VA will dedicate a toll-free 1-800 number, post information at state veterans’ affairs agencies as well as at VA facilities, and establish a transparent Character of Service Determination process for veterans to appeal if they have been denied services or benefits because of the nature of their discharge. In addition, the VA must submit annually a report to the appropriate committees in the House and Senate addressing how many individuals have requested initial mental health assessment under this program, and how many have subsequently received care.



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