Shore Congressman Tom MacArthur has introduced a measure to help veterans suffering from agent orange who were stationed near the demilitarized zone in Korea after the war.

Rep. Tom MacArthur at USCG Station Barnegat Light (USCG Petty Officer 1C Seth Johnson)

 

The Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act will expand the start time of eligibility for disability compensation from September 1 of 1967 to August 3 of 1971 for those who served near the zone.

Currently the start time is April 1 of 1968.

MacArthur says a lot of vets have struggled to prove agent orange was present there.

"There was widespread used of agent orange," said MacArthur. "People think of agent orange as a Vietnam issue but we were using it before Vietnam."

He's not looking to point fingers at anyone but says he's looking to make sure the Veterans Administration (V.A.) does the right thing in helping these vets.

More veterans who served in the demilitarized zone in Korea in the late 1960's and were exposed to agent orange will be able to receive disability compensation under the measure.

MacArthur says the law already covers the children of these vets who have disabilities, so why doesn't the V.A. Cover those veterans?

"Children that are born with these disabilities going back eight-months earlier to September 1 of 1967...they're getting covered," said MacArthur. "Why on earth wont they cover the veterans themselves when they are acknowledging the coverage?"

He says a lot of those vets exposed to agent orange are now having health issues so they need this disability compensation.

He says the adjustment to this law is a fix the V.A. Needs to make.

"These people deserve help from the V.A.," said MacArthur. "They're sick because they were exposed to agent orange serving our country."

Why were all those troops in Korea well after the war was over?

"Our country started trying to clear the foliage and the bushes and try to eliminate the ability for the North Koreans to hide and get close to the DMZ," said MacArthur. "They started spraying and experimenting and trying it out (Agent Orange) even before 1967."

Veterans were exposed to agent orange and other herbicide-related conditions while working to make sure the North Koreans didn't invade the zone again, so they used chemicals in certain areas.

"These are people there more than a decade later protecting the Korean demilitarized zone to make sure that the North Koreans didn't try to break through and cause more havoc," said MacArthur.

"As the son of a Korean War veteran and Representative of more than 50,000 veterans, I believe we have a moral obligation to provide quality care for our veterans," said MacArthur. "They have sacrificed so much for our freedoms and now it's up to us to fight for them."

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