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Rubio, Braun Introduce Bill to Strengthen Benefits for Children of Veterans Affected by Agent Orange

Dec 15, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced a bill to strengthen the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Spina Bifida Program for children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange and toxic herbicides. The companion legislation was introduced in the U.S House of Representatives by Congressman Jim Baird (R-IN).
“Our veterans made a tremendous sacrifice when they chose to serve our country,” Rubio said. “This legislation would help the children of Florida veterans, who were exposed to Agent Orange, and born with spina bifida, by making it easier for them to access high quality resources and care.”
“Many veterans are unaware of the benefits available for their children with certain birth defects due to their exposure to Agent Orange,” Braun said. I am proud to introduce this legislation which will ensure that these beneficiaries get the care and benefits awarded to them by law.”
The OCC Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Program Guide states, “[t]his program provides services and supplies for enrolled beneficiaries for all covered medical conditions, not simply those related to Spina Bifida.” This assistance includes instrumental activities of daily living (i.e., cleaning a house or apartment, showering, cooking, etc.).
The VA Inspector General reported serious problems with the administration of the Spina Bifida program in their 2021 report, including failure to deliver benefits appropriately and to conduct proper oversight, leading to waste of taxpayer dollars.
It is estimated that more than 1,500 Veterans children suffer from Spina Bifida in the U.S. and yet less than half of those are enrolled in the program.