Help Blue Water Navy Vets
To amplify points made by Pat Hynes in her letter last week (“Agent Orange Deja Vu,” July 17, 2014): Exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to numerous health problems, including non-Hodgkins lymphoma, prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. In 1991, legislation was enacted that empowered the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs to declare certain illnesses “presumptive” for exposure to Agent Orange and enabled Vietnam veterans to receive disability compensation for these conditions. However, in 2002, the Veterans’ Administration limited the authority of the act to those veterans who could provide “boots on the ground” orders for Vietnam. As a result, veterans who served in the waters off the coast of Vietnam were forced to file individual claims with the VA to restore their benefits, and the claims are then decided on a case-by-case basis. After 40 years, the evidence needed for these veterans to obtain benefits no longer exists.
I urge you to inform U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla., telephone 202-225-4136), the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, that HR 543, The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013, now has 236 cosponsors. After 14 years of being disenfranchised by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Blue Water Navy deserves its day on the House floor for a vote.
The estimate is that 30,000 veterans of the Blue Water Navy are being denied health care today. With the fiasco facing this nation with the deaths of veterans in the care of the DVA, let’s not add to the count. Please ask Rep. Miller to bring this bill forward for a full vote of the House.
Stop Demonizing Pot
Regarding Tom Vannah’s recent column on efforts to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts (“Repeal or Legalize?”, July 10, 2014), Rosa Parks resisted “the law” by refusing to give up her seat; who knows if the civil rights struggle would have been as successful without such resistance? We all have to be the change that we want to see in the world by sticking to our guns when we know something is wrong. When people reach a critical mass, change happens quickly. We all have to demand personal freedom, justice, equality and liberty. We should certainly stop demonizing a plant to increase profits for robber barons in the oil, cotton, chemical and pharmaceutical industries!
Pot Lobby Gives Pols a Pass
It has been a long time since the referendum on medical marijuana was passed, but there are very few clinics. How did that happen? Look at the way the marijuana lobby conducts itself. The marijuana lobby worked to pass the referendum, but did nothing to oppose politicians on City Councils and in the Legislature who opposed the measure. They gave a free ride back into office to those who would sabotage it.
Let us examine how politics is conducted at the Amherst Extravaganja. Several people speak for hours, reiterating how unfair the marijauna laws are. The Libertarian Party, which, by and large, would repeal the laws against marijuana and actually has a plan to do something about the unfair laws, gets a minute to speak while the next band sets up. One feels like one is on a stage in vaudeville with a guy with a hook on the sidelines.
Now we reap the results of mismanagement of an issue. The public policy question passed, but the party (Democrats mostly, and Republicans) who sabotaged it are safely back in office. Thank you, MassCANN [the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition].
Correction: Last week we mistakenly reported that $40 billion dollars’ worth of natural gas is lost each year through of leaks in Massachusetts’ pipelines. The figure is $40 million.