I have to say that this trip was one of the most interesting trips I have been on. Every trip I always learn new things.The priority of the week was the Court hearing on the Stay that was held on Friday, November 8, 2019. I will get to that later.
We started up the week with some meetings with the working the House side of Congress and finished up the last two days on the Senate side. I won’t go into the exact meeting but I will explain what was in the briefings.
The First item we would cover is HR1713, The Lonnie Kilpatrick Central Pacific Islands Relief Act. Now some members may feel that this isn’t that will help Blue Water Navy Veterans and they would be wrong. By passing this Bill it will help cover others ships that stopped in Guam, like Carriers. Not only that it will cover other Veterans that served on Guam such as Marines, Air Force and Army. Not only does it cover Guam it covers American Samoa, The Northern Mariana, and Johnston Atoll. Many Veterans will be covered.
The Second item we briefed on is a Bill that Military Veterans Advocacy is presenting. The Bill is referred to as the Armed Forces Toxic Exposure Act. This bill will help identify problems in advance. This is modeled after the same process that the Austrialians used to discover that Blue Water Navy Veterans were 37% more likely to suffer from cancer than their counterparts that served boots on the ground. More information will be coming out as the Bill is more formized.
The Third Item we briefed is the problem that exists with the VA prescribing volaile psychotropic medications such as benzodiazepines. This is a major problem with some veterans. These drugs can cause aggressive and even physically and violent behaviors.
The Fourth item was Litigation that MVA is working on. Procopio v. Wilkie was the main item. The hearing on it was held on Friday, which we attended. More later.
The Fifth Item was new Litigation referred to as Injunctive Relief to Prevent VA disclosure of medical information without express authorization. You may have received a letter a couple of weeks ago the VA may of sent you a letter letting you know that unless you opt out by filling out a form and taking it to the VA, they may release your Medical Information to a Third party. This should concern you in many ways. I won’t go into them but it could affect you in many ways.
Some other minor items where covered.
We had up to 13 people in these meetings. In most meetings, the Blue Water Navy Veterans would explain things like why the Stay was hurting Blue Water Navy Veterans. We let them know that the VA was holding the claims of terminally ill veterans until January 1, 2020. We would also cover the fact that the VA was treating the Blue Water Navy Veterans differently than other Veterans. There is a rule in the VA manual that says that a Veterans over the age of 75 can ask for an expedited claim. But in a News release on July 5, 2019 and in the DAMA hearing they stated that for Blue Water Navy Veterans age is 85.
Now on the Stay hearing. The court got the VA to state that they WILL NOT issue a new stay after January 1, 2020. The stay the have in place will end and they will start processing claims. This is very good news. Please listen to the hearing to get a feeling on how the court felt about the VA. Now if I am not mistaken last year two of the three judges that heard this case and the case last years were not in our favor. On this case it appeared they were more on our side. Now I need to make one item clear, the case may not find in our favor due to jurisdiction reasons. But as long as the VA does start doing the claims on January 1, 2020 it is a small victory for us.
Now I must cover the merger. I am glad we are receiving good responses on it. One thing we need to do it make sure that all the Members we have now to rejoin the Association in 2020. We need your help to help all Veterans. Next year many of our Members will start receiving their claims and start to receive benefits. We are asking you to remember who helped you get those benefits. We live on donations and will die if we don’t have them.
The merger makes good sense. We need over 2000 members to become a VSO. We are near 1200 members this year in Blue Water Navy Association. In MVA, we will have sections. At this time we will have Blue Water Navy Association and the Second one will be Agent Orange Survivors of Guam. Anyone wanting to join one of those Sections will be a members of Military Veterans Advocacy. In the future we will be adding new Sections and they will be announced as we get them. Remember the more Members we have, the faster we will achieve our goal.
Col Rob Maness has replaced John Wells as Executive Director and I have replaced Rob as Chief of Staff. You may not see much change. Each Section will have it’s own Facebook Page(s) and Web Site. At this time I will still be the Executive Director/National Commander of the Blue Water Navy Association. Brian Moyer is in charge of Agent Orange Survivors of Guam.
My personal goal is to have the 2000 members by mid-year. That means a lot of work for the leadership of MVA and we are up to it as long as we have your help. If you have a suggestion for a group that wants to become a Section that can use our help, but help us as well, please let us know. I am talking about a group of Veterans that served in Iraq or Afghanistan, Air Force Veterans, Army Veterans, Coast Guard Veterans, or any other type of Veteran. The main thing is they need to be a Veterans or a Spouse of a Veteran.
I want to say something about the team we had to represent you. Lead by Col Rob Maness, we had Jim Kuiken, Freedom, Michael F Kvintus Sr, Thomas Walden, Ed Ball, Susie Belanger,
and Brian O'Callaghan. Two others that had joined us were Sandy Kvintus and Ernie Belanger. This team is fantastic.
Now I have to talk about Ernie. If you saw the Video of our March you will see Ernie playing Taps. We asked him to help and he was willing. But I have to let you know something about Ernie. As you know everything has a beginning. In the Blue Water Navy Agent Orange Case there had to be a “Patient 1”. Well Patient 1 is Ernie. The problems he had receiving his benefits caused Princess Susie to start the fight for all of us. Unfortunately Ernie may of been the first but he isn’t the last.
I want to address the issue of us becoming a registered VSO. To become a VSO we need to have over 2000 official members (dues paying) and maintain it. It would be hard for just Blue Water Navy to maintain that number. With us add more sections we should be able to do that. We will be doing it different than the VSOs out there now. While they help Veterans file their claims with the VA, they also will work with the VA and do what they can to follow the VA direction. We on the other hand would be willing to work with the VA BUT we want to make sure the VA does the job for Veterans the way they should. To give you a good example, how many of the VSO are bringing up the fact that the VA is singling out Blue Water Navy Veterans in many ways, one being that a Veteran over the age of 75 can ask for an expedited hearing on their claim, well except for a Blue Water Navy Veterans, they have to be over 85. Is that fair, I don’t think so. But no other VSO is making waves about it.
More will be coming out on our future plans. We ask that you still support us and get others to support us.
Thank You. for the support you give us.
Chief of Staff
Military Veterans Advocacy
Blue Water Navy Association.