After trying to get the VA to pay for disability benefits for almost half a century, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act went into effect on January 1.
The bill grants access to disability benefits for veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam and were exposed to Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide responsible for thousands of deaths and illnesses. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie stayed the claims and did not begin processing them until January 1.
A lawsuit was filed as an attempt to overturn the stay, but a federal court ruled that the law allowed for Wilkie to issue the delay.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veteran Act was signed by President Trump on June 25, 2019.
According to the VA, more than 400,000 veterans and/or surviving family members could be eligible to receive benefits. Previously, 700,000 Blue Water veterans were denied claims by the VA.
Previously denied veterans can now submit their claims.
If you served on a Blue Water Navy vessel offshore of the Republic of Vietnam, or on another U.S. Navy or Coast Guard ship operating in the coastal waterways of Vietnam, between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, you might be eligible for benefits.
Veterans must have a disease caused by Agent Orange exposure including various cancers, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
Veterans with other illnesses not on the official list from the VA that were caused by Agent Orange must show the problem started or became worst because of military service. Scientific and medical articles with evidence of Agent Orange causing the disease can also be submitted.
For more information, please contact your local VA benefit office.