Nambé, N.M. – Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, joined New Mexico veterans and leaders from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services for an update on the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act that took effect earlier this year.
The law, which Congressman Luján co-sponsored and was passed by Congress in 2019, extends the presumption of service-connection for certain diseases associated with Agent Orange to veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam—making it much easier for them to get their benefits and treating them the same as other Vietnam veterans.
“I know that the VA has been hard at work to implement this new law, and I want to thank our [Albuquerque VA Regional Office] Director [Sammie Quillan] for being available today,” said Luján. “We know that America owes our veterans a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. But we need do our best to make sure everyone gets the benefits they’ve earned and that we treat our veterans with respect and dignity. “
Congressman Luján is a co-sponsor of the Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act, which would add four new illnesses to the list of conditions that are presumed to be service-connected. Additionally, Congressman Luján was a co-sponsor of the CARES Act, which included nearly $20 billion to continue serving veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic, including more than $14 billion to bolster the Department of Veterans Affairs COVID-19 response.
A photo of the virtual discussion is available here.