Ahead of Memorial Day, Katko Leads Effort to Support Nation’s Veterans & Servicemembers by Reintroducing Bipartisan Bills Inspired by CNY Veterans

Washington – Ahead of Memorial Day, U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) today reintroduced the Lawrence J. Hackett Jr. Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Fairness Act and the William Becker Promoting Careers in Aviation for America’s Veterans Act, two bipartisan measures inspired by Central New York veterans that provide relief and support to veterans and returning servicemembers.

“Memorial Day is a time where we pay tribute to those who have given their lives for our freedom and democracy, as well as our current servicemembers, veterans, and their families. As we head into Memorial Day weekend, I’m renewing efforts to provide relief and support to these heroes by reintroducing bipartisan legislation that was inspired by Central New York veterans,” said Rep. Katko. “Today, I reintroduced the William Becker Promoting Careers in Aviation for America’s Veterans Act, a bipartisan bill that restores a tax benefit for veterans and encourages careers in aviation for returning servicemembers. I also reintroduced the Lawrence J. Hackett Jr. Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Fairness Act, bipartisan legislation that provides care and compensation to veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant used during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. This push aims to recognize the incredible sacrifices made by our military personnel and veterans, and deliver the relief and support they deserve.”

Summaries of Rep. Katko’s legislation can be found below:

The Lawrence J. Hackett Jr. Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Fairness Act, bipartisan legislation Rep. Katko introduced alongside U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D, PA-17). Named in honor of Sergeant Lawrence Hackett, a Central New York veteran who lost his battle with Agent Orange related cancer in 2006, this bill would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create a task force to explore ways to provide financial support and necessary healthcare coverage to veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. It also forms a national outreach campaign to educate veterans on the medical risks associated with Agent Orange exposure.

Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant used during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, has left a large number of veterans who served in these wars with life-threatening diseases and cancers, including Hodgkin’s Disease, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Parkinson’s Disease, lung and skin cancers, and Chronic B-cell Leukemia.  There is also increasing evidence that many of the children and grandchildren of these veterans suffer from Spina Bifida, birth defects, and other illnesses.  While many of our nation’s veterans and their families have been greatly impacted by these diseases, many currently do not qualify for the presumption of service-connected healthcare coverage and lack the necessary benefits to compensate for their service.

The William Becker Promoting Careers in Aviation for America’s Veterans Act, bipartisan legislation Rep. Katko introduced alongside U.S. Rep. Colin Allred (D, TX-32). Inspired by William Becker, a Baldwinsville resident and Korean War Veteran, this bipartisan legislation would provide relief to veterans who were retroactively denied tax benefits and forced to pay back taxes as a result of changing guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The bill would also take substantive steps to increase opportunities for returning servicemembers that are interested in careers in aviation, including allowing GI bill benefits to be used for private pilot’s license training and developing a national strategy to assist veterans in joining the aviation workforce.