From:  Preston Cluff

   Dated:  July 6, 2019

Subject:  Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy and Korea DMZ cases until January 1, 2020

Personally, Kelly can STUFF IT!  Where the hell does he get off saying "tyrannical presidential" powers are being used against us????? 
Fortunately, I am lucky in that I, myself, need not worry about BWN issues.  I wonder if Kelly does, either.  And, if not, he definitely shouldn't be going off on a general rant about the VA.  I would like to think the VA is now proceeding as quickly as possible with regard to this issue.  Of course there's always room for improvement but, as far as I'm concerned, the VA and VA medical facilities are doing a great job.. 
Oh, oh; I just "generalized" didn't I.  I'll cease the rant. 

Preston​​


    From:  Ken Kalish

   Dated:  July 8, 2019

Subject:  Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy and Korea DMZ cases until January 1, 2020

I know, Steve. 
I’ve been in the registry since it was created.  What we Brown Water sailors have been fighting for is for the VA to recognize “Blue Water” sailors as having been exposed. 
My brother’s ship was running supplies from Subic to various points in VN, yet the crew was not allowed to claim AO exposure despite having been offloading to the beach in both developed (Saigon, Vung Tau) and native sites (get that flat bottomed boat on the sand).  They were there, they breathed the air, they drank the water, they were mustered as shore party, but they’ve never been counted.  My brother has some of the AO presumptive issues, but he’s not eligible. 
This delay, five and a half months, is literally life or death for some of those folks and it is intentional.  Die before January 1 and you’re just another dead vet with no “confirmed” link to AO exposure, and we’re dying fast.  Look at our own group, for god’s sake, and in Saigon we weren’t being sprayed or literally soaking in it.  In the Delta, in the Highlands, at the DMZ, we were. 
My little Gamewardens group figures there are about 5,000 of us left.  We’re losing an average of ten a month since January, with January as the low end of the count.  That number will only go up until around September of 2020 when there will be about 2,000 of us.  The guys on the ships drinking the desalinated water fed by VN’s AO engorged rivers were exposed even if their ships never got within two miles of the beach.  Look at the crude oil effect on the entire Gulf of Mexico as an example.  Go to a ship’s reunion for the Turner Joy or the Catamount and you’ll see the same issues.  This has been a very long fight.  Some of us blame the administration, some blame the VA, some blame legislators, but we won in the courts and it is time to stop playing the numbers game. 
Every roadblock the VA erects, every delay, costs lives.  That’s the whole explanation – numbers, as in cost. 
Ken


​    From:  Preston Cluff

   Dated:  July 8, 2019

Subject:  Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy and Korea DMZ cases until January 1, 2020

I am sincerely sympathetic to all who suffer, or have relatives who do; however, please note the "facts" are actually explained in some of your responses.  It's been a bureaucratic mess (5 administrations??), not a VA mess. 

Preston


​    From:  Bob Young

   Dated:  July 12, 2019

Subject:  Re: FW: Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy

​I recently watched the HBO series “Chernobyl” and was struck by the parallels between the Soviet government’s denials and indifference to the long term health issues of the people effected - and out government’s denials and indifference to the long term health issues of our blue water veterans. 
Bob Young

​    From:  Brian Truss

   Dated:  July 13, 2019

Subject:  Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy and Korea DMZ cases until January 1, 2020

What is also sad is that many of the Blue Water Navy people think that the four new presumptives  are covered.  Well, not yet.  We all still wait for Badder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, Parkinson like symptoms and stroke.

​    From:  Ken Kalish

   Dated:  July 10, 2019

Subject:  Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy and Korea DMZ cases until January 1, 2020

My friend, it is the Secretary who is postponing the implementation, therefore it is the VA, period. My brown water brothers have reported three new deaths so far this week. We're on track to hit more than 20 this month. Defend the VA if you must, but they've been hamstringed by VA administrative rules that prohibit them from complying with the law. That's not cussing out the people who work there, that's calling them out for failing to do their jobs as mandated by law.

Ken


    From:  Ken Kalish

   Dated:  July 8, 2019

Subject:  Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy and Korea DMZ cases until January 1, 2020

Preston, what I didn’t mention (again) is that I started my VN tour as a PBR gunner out of Vinh Long.  I think that qualifies me as a “BWN” sailor.. 
Ken


    From:  Steve Pennington

   Dated:  July 8, 2019

Subject:  Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy and Korea DMZ cases until January 1, 2020

Brown Water Navy guys have been on the list for a long time, so The PBR and Market Time guys were included.

SLP


    From:  Paul Sutton

   Dated:  July 6, 2019

Subject:  Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy and Korea DMZ cases until January 1, 2020

​A meaningful, insightful and powerful statement from long-time advocate Charles Kelley in Georgia on this farce. 
Paul Sutton 
Hi Paul, 
The Department of Veterans Affairs, if they really gave a damn about this BWN issues or any similar issues, the Secretary could issue what is called a “VA Fast Track Letter”. 
This “VA Fast Track Letter” from the Secretary to all regional offices could have stated to go ahead and start processing claims for BWN Veterans and Widows. That the VA laws and regulations or whatever would follow up in the normal time frame and through normal channels. 
Since the Secretary is the politically appointed, not elected, President for an entire segment of society in all Veterans Issues this would be similar to a real elected President “Executive Branch Directive”. 
He has that power. 
Unfortunately; in many cases, it is a tyrannical presidential “politically appointed” powers; used against us. 
By the way… what odds do you think that anyone in Government including the VA is going to try and make sure the long ago government created Widows are informed... they now have government benefits coming to them as well? 
Kelley 

​    From:  Paul Kasper

   Dated:  July 8, 2019

Subject:  BLUE WATER Navy & Coast Guard Ships Associated with Service in Vietnam and Exposure to Herbicide Agents July 1, 2019

​Paul forwarded a long ​​list of ships involved with Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.   It is attached here as a PDFfile.


​​BLUE WATER Navy & Coast Guard Ships Associated with Service in Vietnam

and Exposure to Herbicide Agents July 1, 2019


​    From:  Steve Pennington

   Dated:  July 8, 2019

Subject:  Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy and Korea DMZ cases until January 1, 2020

Ken, you are absolutely correct about the struggle for Blue Water Navy veterans. Here in Washington State, we have been working with our BWN veterans for decades, with the same results. I helped a friend with his claim and after a 4 year struggle he received a 30% disability rating and 4 years of back pay.. He was aboard the USS Tillamook, which served as an ocean going tug, and towed barges into harbors all along the coast of SVN, including barrels of dioxin.. Another friend was a Marine and worked on helicopters aboard  a light aircraft carrier. They serviced the birds when they returned from mission ashore, including resupply in deforested areas. We are still moving forward with his appeal, but it doesn't look like the appellate process will be in place until next year. Hope your brother gets taken care of with the new decision.. We'll see how fast the DVA moves. This fight has been going on for 5 administrations and it has finally come to a head. I was in the first AO study in 1977, and now find out that both of my assignments in Vietnam are Superfund Cleanup sites, Phu Cat and Danang. There are less than a million of us with boots on the ground and we don't even constitute a significant voting block anymore.

Steve


Agent Orange - Blue Water Navy

July 2019

​    From:  Brian Truss

   Dated:  July 13, 2019

Subject:  FW: Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water

What is also sad is that many of the Blue Water Navy people think that the four new presumptives  are covered.  Well, not yet.  We all still wait for Badder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, Parkinson like symptoms and stroke.

​    From:  Ken Kalish

   Dated:  July 11, 2019

Subject:  Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy and Korea DMZ cases until January 1, 2020

All the more reason to get the blue water guys under cover.  You had your zippo to thank for those issues.  Me, all I have is the AO and the burning hulk of an occasional fiberglass hull.  The guys on ships just have AO, but that’s enough.  And yes, they are just waiting for us to die. 
Ken


​    From:  Paul Kasper

   Dated:  July 10, 2019

Subject:  Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy and Korea DMZ cases until January 1, 2020

Ken, I was with TF-117 only I was Army on the boats. Like you I have lost far to many Brothers. The doctors say doing the Flame throwers, I was inhaling more of the crap in the smoke and fumes. They check my lungs a couple times a year. They already removed 1 kidney and its adrenal gland because of a tumor. I have about every other issue! 
If you remember many years ago Fred Wilcox wrote a book called "Waiting for a Army to Die" The basis was that the VA was waiting till most of us are dead so they wont have to pay out as much from the VA budget.


AFVN Group Conversations

​    From:  Ken Kalish

   Dated:  July 12, 2019

Subject:  Here's how the VA says it

In an article in the current VA newsletter,  https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5280 the VA says “The bipartisan Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act gives VA until Jan. 1, 2020, to begin deciding Blue Water Navy related claims. By staying claims decisions until that date, VA is complying with the law that Congress wrote and passed.”  The law says it must be implemented BY January first, not ON January first. Shift the blame and ignore the man behind that curtain. 
Ken Kalish


    From:  Ken Kalish

   Dated:  July 8, 2019

Subject:  Comment: Secretary Wilkie has officially stayed all Blue Water Navy and Korea DMZ cases until January 1, 2020

Preston, my friend, my brother is one of those blue water vets.  He’s been waiting more than 15 years for this, since his heart began to fail.  He’s been told by the VA he couldn’t have been exposed to AO since although his ship (LSD 17,  Catamount) did often make port in Viet Nam, he couldn’t have been ashore because he was ship’s company.  Anyone who has ever been in the Navy knows all about the need for shore parties – particularly since he was a Boatswain’s Mate.  A lot of us brown water sailors have fought a long fight for this and some doubt is understandable.  The VA has done generally well for me, but not my brother. 
Ken
​​