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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.

Veterans: 22
Latest Activity: Jan 18

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Help with a VA Claim

Started by Bradley Gordon Matthews. Last reply by Mike Ayars Feb 21, 2017. 9 Replies

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Started by William Lee Bragg. Last reply by Tom Hensch Sep 28, 2016. 2 Replies

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Comment by Michael Austin on January 16, 2018 at 4:49pm

Nothing new as of mid-January, Commander.  I think we have a good sponsor in my congressman (Graves - LA), as well as a few others in the House and Senate he brought into the issue.  We got the amendment passed through the House this past year and would have made it all the way through the NDAA process but for one unexpected nay vote from a Senator who really should be on our side.

We try again through the NDAA 2019 process. I intend to do just as you suggested and keep up the pressure.  Last year my congressman's Legislative Assistant for Veterans Affairs worked very hard to guide the amendment through the House and much of the Senate.  Unfortunately he has taken another job, so I hope I can inspire his replacement to do as well as he.  It will help immensely if anyone who reads this would continue to put polite pressure on their own senators and congressmen.

I hope the guys you contacted thirty years ago have moved on to their greater reward (lobbying, I mean, not necessarily the other place) so their replacements get the chance to view our request favorably and without the blinders and prejudices of previous generations.

Comment by Robert Michael Cosgrove on January 16, 2018 at 3:36pm

Anything new?  I could show you all letters I wrote to my senators and reps 30 years ago.  Could also show the condescending replies..."Thank you so much for contacting me.  Blah, blah, blah."  Nothing has changed on that front.  Hope we keep pestering the powers that be.  We can put the ribbon on the uniform we get buried in.

Comment by Alton Ray Adams on December 7, 2017 at 12:56pm

Mike and Jeff, I've been a member of this site since I joined. I have recently retired and I'm just getting back to following this group. Everything I have read and followed is what the two of you are doing to help those who served during Operation End Sweep to get the recognation they deserved. What you said about McCain is true and has been showing his rino side more and more over the last few years. I wish you both well and a blessed Christmas and New Year and fair seas.

Comment by Michael Austin on December 7, 2017 at 1:12am

Jeff, thanks for the nice words and holiday wishes.  I also hope our shipmates and their families enjoy the holidays.

There isn't a single person in government worthy of worship:  never has been and never will be.  I  agree with you that although Senator McCain is worthy of great respect, specifically for the toll he has taken and for his many achievements.  Senator McCain has made some great decisions and has a net positive effect on our government, but on some issues, he screwed the pooch, and I'd say the End Sweep/VSM issue is one of them.  So criticisms of McCain can be justified, and your criticisms of him fall far short of disrespectful.  If anyone got their feelings hurt by your comments ... oh, well.

Mr. Adams, I sincerely hope you and the rest of the Blue Water bunch are successful in your fight with the VA.  It's been a long haul for many.

Comment by Alton Ray Adams on December 6, 2017 at 1:09pm

Thanks for the info. I’ll start hammering my state reps to get off their butts and support this bill.

Comment by Michael Austin on December 4, 2017 at 3:10pm

Hi Mr. Adams,

Sorry to hear about your problems with the VA, but none of us are surprised.  It's an old, sad story.

The Operation End Sweep/VSM issue discussed in this forum may not be much help with VA benefits, especially concerning Agent Orange.  Once upon a time, the VA considered the VSM as qualifying evidence for presumptive Agent Orange exposure.  That ended around 2002 when the VA decided a good way to fund outrageous executive bonuses would be to exclude Blue Water Navy sailors and set the criteria for AO presumption as "boots on the ground"  (the bonuses part is my cynical interpretation, but it's surely not far of the mark).  Hence, even if we are awarded VSM for participating in Operation End Sweep, it's not likely to help with VA claims, at least not now and not for AO.  But who knows?  Maybe the criteria for AO presumption will someday be reset to include VSM, but I'm not optimistic.

Better information about your situation (and mine) can be found with the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association.  There are two Facebook groups, "Blue Water Navy Awareness" and "Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association", that may be helpful.

Meanwhile, it would be helpful to both issues, Op. End Sweep/VSM and Blue Water Navy AO, if you call your congressman and senator and ask for their continued support.  Too late this fiscal year for congress to do anything about End Sweep, so we shall try again next fiscal year.  However, please call your US Senators and ask them to support  S.422 - Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017.

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 garretgraves.house.gov.

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.  

 

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