WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – A group of retired Navy veterans are in Washington D.C. fighting against the government they spent years protecting.
Mike Kvintus the Blue Water Navy National Vice Commander said he has, “terrible heart disease, diabetes, kidney issues.”
He said he suffers from exposure to Agent Orange after two tours of duty off the Coast of Vietnam.
He said he’s been fighting for benefits for seven years and most recently faced a stay on claims placed with the Veteran Affairs Administration.
Commander John Wells the Blue Water Navy Legal Counsel said these veterans had traveled to DC, “most of them at their own expense to show their support for what we’re trying to do.”
On Friday, Wells represented the Blue Water Navy Veterans in their attempts to lift the stay immediately instead of waiting until January 1st.
Since it began in July at least 10 of Wells colleagues have died without receiving the help they needed.
We spoke with Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie and he said they will be here New Years Day Ready to process those claims.”
VA Sec. Robert Wilkie told us “we’ve already got the backlog in tow in terms of those appeals and claims that are ready to go but we are open for business on January 1st. The protests they’ll go on, but we’re ready, we’re following the law.”
Inside the hearing, a panel of judges told veterans that waiting for the Jan. 1 deadline is likely their fastest option but also ordered the VA not ask for additional delays.
Veterans remain skeptical.
“They know and they should start processing these claims immediately”
They say with Veterans Day around the corner, it would be the perfect day to lift the stay.