Vietnam Vets May Be Eligible for Compensation Benefits

Blue Water Vietnam Veterans May Be Eligible for Compensation Benefits Related to Agent Orange Exposure

Did you serve 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?

If yes, you may have had contact with Agent Orange, an herbicide used to clear trees and plants during the war. Find out if you can get disability compensation and other benefits for illnesses believed to be caused by Agent Orange.

On Tuesday, June 25, 2019, the President signed into law the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. The new law comes on the heels of the decision of the US Court of Appeals in January to reverse the decade-old Veteran's Administration (VA) position on Agent Orange eligibility for Vietnam Navy and Marine Corps veterans who served aboard deep-draft US Navy vessels like aircraft carriers off the Vietnamese coast.

The new law restores VA benefits to an estimated 90,000 Vietnam veterans who had their disability eligibility taken away by the VA in 2002 after arbitrary regulatory changes. For Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) veterans, it also provides an earlier start date for Agent Orange exposure of US veterans who served in or near the DMZ in Korea.

The new law also expands VA benefits to children born with spina bifida due to a parent’s exposure in Thailand, coverage that already exists for the children of Vietnam and Korean DMZ veterans.

The full list of health conditions recognized by the VA related to Agent Orange exposure can be found at: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/.

In a closely related issue, the VA is expected to issue a decision soon on the recognition of four new health conditions related to Agent Orange exposure, including bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, hypertension and Parkinson’s-like symptoms.

Commissioner Chris Richardson, a retired veteran himself, stated, “This is a great step forward by the VA in recognizing the exposures to Marines and Sailors that supported our ground troops in Vietnam. I do encourage anyone that feels they have a claim to contact our county’s Veterans Service Officer.”

In Elbert County, Vietnam veterans and any un-remarried widows of Vietnam veterans (now including blue-water veterans) are encouraged to contact the Elbert County Veterans Service Office at 303-520-6088 or by email to Ric Morgan, Elbert County Veterans Services Officer, at morgan@hayday.org to review VA benefits and eligibility.