Blue Water Navy Veterans can now take advantage of the Agent Orange Act of 1991.
Why is Agent Orange a Presumed VA Disability?
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military used herbicides such as Agent Orange to clear trees and plants. Due to the toxicity and inherent danger of the herbicides, the Agent Orange Act of 1991 was passed, whereby certain diseases are presumed to be related to in-service exposure to herbicides (including Agent Orange). For over 20 years after the Agent Orange Act, VA split disabled Vietnam veterans into 2 distinct groups:
- Those who either set foot in Vietnam or served on boats patrolling inland waterways (also known as “Brown Water”), and
- Those who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam (also known as “Blue Water” veterans).
Brown Water Vietnam veterans enjoyed an easier path to VA disability benefits for certain disabilities. Specifically, VA’s policy was to grant compensation to any Vietnam veteran who could prove the following:
- Inland service in Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, and
- A diagnosis of one or more of the 14 specific medical conditions.
On January 29, 2019, this all changed for the better for Blue Water Navy Veterans
On January 29, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit concluded that the Agent Orange Act of 1991 also applied to Blue Water veterans. The Court found that the Act’s requirement for service in the Republic of Vietnam included both its landmass and its 12 nautical mile territorial sea. In short, VA had been misinterpreting the law for over 20 years. Because of VA’s mistake, it denied thousands of Agent Orange exposure claims involving Blue Water Vietnam veterans. The Procopio case drastically changed the game for Blue Water veterans. However, because court cases can be overturned, there was significant support in Congress to enact the Procopio holding into federal law.
Blue Water Navy Veterans Federal Law
On June 25, 2019, the President signed into law the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. It took effect January 1, 2020. This law made it easier for the Blue Water Navy veterans and their families to get disability benefits. In addition, it gave the same presumptions to veterans who served in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) from September 1, 1967 to August 31, 1971.
Are you an Eligible Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veteran?
If your answer to all of the following questions is “Yes”, then you are probably eligible for benefits under the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act:
- Did you serve on a Navy ship offshore Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975?
- While you were on board, did the ship come within 12 nautical miles of the Vietnamese coast?
- Do you have one of the 14 disabilities VA presumes related to herbicide exposure?
Which disabilities may be caused by Blue Water exposure?
VA presumes that the following conditions are related to exposure to herbicides such as Agent Orange:
- Chronic B-cell leukemia,
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma,
- Multiple myeloma,
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,
- Prostate cancer,
- Respiratory cancers, including lung cancer,
- Soft tissue sarcomas,
- Amyloid light-chain (AL amyloidosis),
- Diabetes mellitus type 2,
- Ischemic heart disease,
- Parkinson’s disease,
- Peripheral neuropathy, and
- Porphyria cutanea tarda.
If you have any of the 14 presumptive disabilities, and you served on a ship that operated within 12 nautical miles of Vietnam, then you may be entitled to disability compensation.
What if VA denied my Blue Water claim years ago?
Let’s say you filed your first Blue Water Navy claim for prostate cancer in 1990. In 1991, VA then denied your claim because you did not serve on the landmass or internal waterways of Vietnam. You then file a new Blue Water Navy claim on February 20, 2020. When VA grants your claim, it must be retroactive to the date of the 1990 claim. This amounts to a 30-year retroactive period.
Disability Help Group, Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652
Has VA ever denied your Agent Orange exposure claim because you are a Blue Water Navy veteran? You may be entitled to significant compensation. Contact us now for a free consultation.
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