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Operation End Sweep

On 27 January 1973, American and North Vietnamese officials signed a protocol to the Paris agreement that called for the United States to neutralize the mines that the Navy had dropped in North Vietnam's coastal and inland waterways.

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Help with a VA Claim

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Comment by Alton Ray Adams on December 4, 2017 at 1:47pm

Mr. Austin, Mr. Puritz I would like to become someone to help with this problem.

I live in New Mexico and have been fighting the VA over issues caused by AO from the water we drank aboard the Tripoli and the Ogden. This state will not do anything to help with medical issues unless you have a VSM on your DD214. Please count me in on contacting any senator or representative that needs to be called.

Comment by Michael Austin on December 4, 2017 at 12:42pm

Jeff, here's the latest.  We were unsuccessful in having an amendment included in the NDAA for this fiscal year.  The House of Representatives had our amendment firmly in place, but during the conference process it was struck from the final version by the Senate.

Strong support for the amendment throughout the House, much support from the Senate, but Senator McCain decided he wasn't having it.  I am still stunned that McCain, of all people, would be the obstructionist.

My congressman's legislative assistant, Kevin O'Keefe, has been our champion for this issue.  He tells me various VSOs offer their support, including Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association, AmVets, VFW and others.  Also he has received calls from other congressmen expressing support for the Op. End Sweep/VSM initiative, so somehow the word seems to be spreading, perhaps helped along at least in part by this form.  Kevin would like to hear from anyone who supports the initiative, regardless of their home congressional district, so please call him if you have anything helpful to say about it.  Contact the office of  Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA) at 202-225-3901 and ask for Mr. Kevin O'Keefe.  Email is

Personal disclaimer:  at this moment I am dazed and loopy thanks to a concoction of opioids and other strange brews.  I'm not even sure if I'm writing in English or Klingon, so apologies for any odd and incoherent expressions.  I'm recovering from lumbar fusion surgery, authorized through the VA's Veteran's Choice program.  I mention this because VA approvals for the surgery were, as you might expect, choked up at various points in the process.  One telephone call to Congressman Grave's office, and within 48 hours the logjams disappeared.  Certain elements of Congress may deserve the daily criticisms you hear.  Some do not, because they know how to fight and get things done, even if it takes time.  

Comment by Michael Austin on October 26, 2017 at 2:22pm
Nothing to report so far, Jeff. Congressman Graves’ office promises to keep me update, and they’ve been good about that. I call occasionally just to check up, which I did just recently. I wish I had some good news, but at least I have no new negatives. 50/50 I reckon; nothing yet to celebrate or dispair.
Comment by Michael Austin on October 16, 2017 at 4:57pm

No need to apologize, Jeff.  The amendment can't be found in any current drafts, so it's quite reasonable to conclude it's gone and forgotten.  We must simply wait and see if Senator McCain decides to drop his resistance or if a bit of legislative magic can be found to work around it.  

Comment by Michael Austin on October 16, 2017 at 4:20pm

Jeff, thanks for the message and support. I just talked to Congressman Graves' office, and it seems House Amendment 566 isn't dead yet, but surely we have no help from the Senate. I'm stunned to learn the main roadblock is from Senator McCain who, unfortunately for this matter, is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. With his background I cannot imagine why he would oppose something like this. I’m inclined to speculate that someone in his office has led him astray, for whatever reason. I called Senator McCain’s office appealing for support, but I have no reply.

There’s a bit of good news. The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Mac Thornberry of Texas, seems to be firmly on our side. He may be able to get the amendment included, depending upon how much effort the other side wants to put into opposing it. Meanwhile, Congressman Graves’ office hasn’t abandoned us.

Bottom line is that although we may not have good reason to expect victory, neither should we admit defeat until the final version of the bill is presented to the Oval Office.

Comment by Michael Austin on October 4, 2017 at 4:07pm
Jeff Purits — I agree. I’ll try to find out who is the Senate holdout. Meanwhile, I’d like to hear from anyone in this forum who might disagree with extending eligibility for the Vietnam Service Medal to sailors and marines who joined the party only during the post-March 23rd segment of Operation End Sweep. If there are such folks, would you mind saying why you disagree?
Comment by Michael Austin on October 4, 2017 at 2:11pm

News about VSM for Endsweep veterans.  The amendment passed the House, but someone in the Senate objected, so it isn't in the Senate version of NDAA. 

The Senate opponent claims "the slippery slope" if VSM is awarded to Endsweep participants, meaning he (or perhaps she) fears every ten-cent operation from March 23, 1973 to the distant future would demand VSM eligibility.  However, with one righteous exception -- Mayaguez Incident, already a companion amendment in NDAA 2018 -- no other operation could meet other requirements for VSM.   So even if the slope was soaked in 5W30, there's nothing left to slip down it.

Not yet the end of the story, but someone in the Senate is throwing up pointless interference.

Comment by Michael Austin on July 28, 2017 at 9:09pm
Mike Ayer, I just learned that your guy (Congressman LoBiondo) recently payed a call on my guy (Congressman Graves) in support of VSM for Op. End Sweep. Looks like your email prompted an active response. Once again, THANKS!
Comment by Michael Austin on July 21, 2017 at 10:52pm

Mike Ayars, thanks for writing to your congressman.  It truly helps.  

Comment by Michael Austin on July 21, 2017 at 10:46pm

Mark Chambers, the Vietnam Campaign Medal (green and white) was granted by the Republic of Vietnam but was considered an authorized foreign medal by the USN.  Might be difficult for the Republic of Vietnam to retroactively award the medal to those folks who might have missed out.


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