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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Bilirakis Condemns VA Senior Official’s Comments, Urges Senate to Pass Blue Water Navy Bill

September 21, 2018
Press Release


Washington, DC:  Congressman Gus Bilirakis carried through on his promise to push his Senate colleagues to take action on critical legislation to rectify the injustice perpetuated against Blue Water Navy Veterans for more than three decades.  He co-authored a joint letter with his House colleagues urging Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson to avoid further delay and pass the bill granting presumptive status of service connected disability to these heroes.  As noted in the letter,  Congressman Bilirakis  was extremely disappointed by the comments recently made by a senior VA employee about the legislation.  “This official’s comments show a complete lack of understanding for the plight of our Blue Water Navy Veterans.  Our focus should be on the cost that has been incurred by these Veterans, who are sick, and in some cases dying, as well as, the financial and emotional hardship their families have endured—not the cost to the system.  Congress has given the VA record increases in funding in recent years.  These dollars are to be used to help our Veterans.  The brave men and women who have been exposed to these toxins risked their lives to defend our nation.  Now, it is our job to defend them against this rigid, bureaucratic mindset and cut through the red tape We must honor our commitment to them by providing the medical care and benefits they have earned through their sacrifice and service,” said Congressman Bilirakis.    

After Vietnam, it took the VA decades of studying the effects of Agent Orange before it made the official determination that exposure to the deadly chemical caused Veterans to get sick. This determination allowed them to access medical care and disability benefits.  In the case of the Blue Water Navy Veterans, they are still waiting.  It is a moral imperative that we learn from our mistakes. These Veterans are suffering and they need help now.  I will not rest until this bill is signed into law,” Congressman Bilirakis added.