To the editor:
The state of Pennsylvania is one of the most patriotic in our Country. Our country's Constitution was written here. We are the caretaker of the Liberty Bell. America was born in Pennsylvania. Our country's freedom began here.
Who are the caretakers of our veterans? Supposedly, our Congress. As President Abe Lincoln said, "We must care for those who have fought the Nation's battles." Is that not one of the jobs of our Congress?
The most controversial war in American history ended 37 years ago, the Vietnam war. Many surviving veterans of that war, to this date can not get benefits from Veterans Affairs. Why? Because our Congress controls the VA. Navy at sea, Coast Guard at sea, some Air Force and fleet Marines do not qualify for VA benefits. Why? Because of not having boots-on-ground, Vietnam. Yet, these military personnel who fought did earn the Vietnam Service Medal.
Pennsylvania has two U.S. Senators and 19 U.S. members of Congress. There are two bills in legislation, HR-3612 and S.1629. These bills are to restore the Agent Orange Act of 1991, taken away in 2002 by that administration, unless the veteran had boots-on-ground. A few of these legislators have co-sponsored these bills.
As of this writing, the following are co-sponsors:
Senate: Bob Casey, D-Pa.
Congress: Altmire, D-Pa.-4; Barletta, R-Pa.-11; Critz, D-Pa.-12; Doyle, D-Pa.-14; Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.-8; Gerlach, R-Pa. 6; Meehan, R-Pa.-7; Platts, R-Pa.-19.
The following are not yet co-sponsors:
Senate: Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
Congress: Bradey, D-Pa.-1; Fattah, D-Pa.-2; Kelly, R-Pa.-3; Thompson, R-Pa.-5; Shuster, R-Pa.-9; Marino, R-Pa.-10; Schwartz, D-Pa.-13; Dent, R-Pa.-15; Pitts, R-Pa.-16; Holden, D-Pa.-17; Murphy, R-Pa.-18.
Why cannot our U.S. legislators be bipartisan? Is it too much to ask for Pennsylvania veterans to be cared for who are sick and those who may become sick? Pennsylvania, let us show the rest of our country we care about our veterans. We can be the first state to show 100-percent bipartisanship participation to help our veterans in need. I ask Pennsylvanians to write and urge our legislators who have not co-sponsored the bills.
John J. Bury
Vietnam war veteran