CT veterans demand expanded medical care for Agent Orange victims

Posted: Updated:
HARTFORD -

Vietnam War veterans say they're fighting for medical coverage due to only some qualifying for Agent Orange benefits at Veterans Affairs clinics.

American soldiers dumped millions of gallons of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Connecticut veteran Gerry Wright says he had no idea the government was poisoning them with the herbicide.

Currently, only ground troops qualify for Agent Orange benefits. Veterans say they want Congress to expand Agent Orange disability benefits to sailors who served on Navy ships off the Vietnamese coast.

"I went to Vietnam and now I'm sick from the Agent Orange," says Paul Scappaticci, a Navy veteran. "I have chronic diseases. I've had two cancers."

A bipartisan plan to expand Agent Orange benefits did not pass in Congress last month. Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie says it's because of cost concerns.

"We came so close during the last session," says Sen. Richard Blumenthal. "... We're going to push for this measure in the very first days of the new Congress."

The new Congress starts Thursday.

Some members of Congress questioned whether the science really links the sailors' illnesses to Agent Orange.

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