Support for the Blue Water Navy Bills
On behalf of the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF), the oldest and largest myeloma foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients while working toward prevention and a cure, I am writing to express our support for H.R. 543, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013, and H.R. 1494, the Blue Water Navy Ship Accountability Act. These important bills ensure that sailors who were exposed to Agent Orange, a carcinogen that can lead to higher incidence of myeloma, during the Vietnam War receive healthcare coverage.
The second most common blood cancer worldwide, multiple myeloma (or myeloma) is a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow. It is called “multiple” because the cancer can occur at multiple sites in multiple bones. Each year approximately 20,000 Americans are diagnosed with myeloma and 10,000 lose their battle with this disease. Once a disease of the elderly, it is now being found in increasing numbers in people under 65. At any one time, there are over 100,000 myeloma patients undergoing treatment for their disease in the U.S. Although the incidence of many cancers is decreasing, the number of myeloma cases is on the rise. There is no cure for myeloma, remissions are not always permanent, and additional treatment options are essential.
The Blue Water Navy Ship Accountability Act would call on the Secretary of the Navy to create a list of all Navy ships that operated in areas where sailors could have been exposed to Agent Orange near Vietnam. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act would give health coverage to the sailors who were exposed to Agent Orange on those ships. Together, the bills would ensure that Navy veterans who need treatment for life-threatening illnesses—including myeloma—as a result of their service will receive the health coverage they deserve.
We therefore urge Congress to pass the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013 and the Blue Water Navy Ship Accountability Act this year. If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Meghan Buzby, Director of US Advocacy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410.252.3457. Thank you for your time and consideration.