Nearly 560,000 Vietnam-Era Veterans may Qualify as Blue Water Navy Veterans

It was signed into law on June 25, so it’s been a while. But, it has only been of recent you could find the documentation saying exactly what it was President Trump signed to law on Congress.gov. Even so, the lingo can be a bit confusing.

“(a) Service Connection.—For the purposes of section 1110 of this title, and subject to section 1113 of this title, a disease covered by section 1116 of this title becoming manifest as specified in that section in a veteran who, during active military, naval, or air service, served offshore of the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975, shall be considered to have been incurred in or aggravated by such service, notwithstanding that there is no record of evidence of such disease during the period of such service.

“(b) Exposure.—A veteran who, during active military, naval, or air service, served offshore of the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975, shall be presumed to have been exposed during such service to an herbicide agent unless there is affirmative evidence to establish that the veteran was not exposed to any such agent during that service.”

What exactly does this mean? To understand why this is important, you must first know that Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange off the coast of Vietnam had no way of confirming it. So, veterans who developed prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease, etc. had no way of proving to the VA that it was a result of where they served during the Vietnam War. Because of this, veterans weren’t getting the help or compensation they deserve from the VA.

The above two sections, taken from H. R. 299, when translated into everyday english, means that a veteran who served off the shores of Vietnam from January 9, 1962 to May 7, 1975 are assumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange, with or without proof. The only way to deny someone the benefits they deserve is to have evidence that they were not exposed to the herbicide while serving.

So, if you are a veteran of the Vietnam war, who served either in air or sea off the coast of Vietnam, the VA should automatically assume you were exposed to the agent. If you developed Parkinson’s disease and served in this area between the specified dates, the VA is required to render medical services to you (unless you choose otherwise). This also means you are eligible for a VA disability rating and monetary compensation.

The law goes into effect on January 1, 2020, with veterans over 85 and those with life-threatening illnesses taking priority with the VA.

According to the VA, the following conditions are connected to Agent Orange:

  • AL amyloidosis
  • Chloracne or similar acneform disease
  • Chronic B-cell leukemias
  • Diabetes mellitus Type 2
  • Hodgkin lymphoma, formerly known as Hodgkin’s disease
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, formerly known as Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy, early-onset
  • Porphyria cutanea tarda
  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx or trachea)
  • Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma or mesothelioma).

This same act states that VA loan limits will also be a thing of the past, which more veterans are now eligible for under the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. According to the VA between 420,000 to 560,000 Vietnam-era veterans qualify for as a Blue Water Navy Veteran.

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