Politics

Boozman, Tester Introduce Legislation to Expand VA Benefits for Vietnam Veterans

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the Forgotten Vietnam Veterans Act to expand wartime benefits to veterans who served in the Vietnam War and have been ineligible for assistance because of differences between the war era dates at the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Currently, DoD recognizes the Vietnam War era as November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975 while the VA recognizes the Vietnam War era as February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975. This discrepancy has prevented members of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) from qualifying for wartime veterans benefits like the veterans pension. MAAG is a designation for U.S. military advisors sent to other countries to assist in the training of conventional armed forces and facilitate military aid. More than 3,200 MAAGs served during the Vietnam War.

“Expanding the VA’s statutory definition of the Vietnam War era will ensure MAAG veterans are eligible for benefits they earned. Our legislation will correct the error that has prevented them from receiving benefits they are rightly due,” Boozman said.

“As a nation, we have an obligation to ensure that the men and women who served in Vietnam are properly recognized—and honored—for their sacrifices,” said Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tester. “Our bipartisan bill will alter the federal government’s timeline to reflect our country’s official involvement in the Vietnam War, rightfully extending wartime benefits to veterans previously excluded from receiving the benefits they deserve.” 

The legislation is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of America.

“More than 3,000 veterans served in Vietnam from November 1, 1955 to February 27, 1961, ten of whom were killed in action,” said Matthew Doyle, Deputy Director National Legislative Service of VFW. “However, veterans who served in Vietnam prior to February 28, 1961 are not considered wartime veterans and likewise are ineligible for certain VA benefits. The VFW is proud to support this legislation, which would change the statutory definition of Vietnam veteran to include those who served in the Republic of Vietnam beginning on November 1, 1955.”

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman TJ Cox (D-CA-21).

Click here to read the Senate bill.

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