Blue Water Navy veterans who served in Vietnam have historically had a difficult time collecting benefits for Agent Orange exposure. But this changed dramatically in 2019 with passage of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. Veterans who were previously denied an Agent Orange-related disability claim, or who have never applied, should know their legal rights. Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC can help those veterans get the compensation they deserve.
The Agent Orange Act of 1991 provided disability coverage to Vietnam veterans suffering diseases associated with exposure to the chemical. But in 2002, the VA clarified that a veteran must actually have stepped foot in Vietnam to be presumed exposed. Mobile, AL veterans benefits attorneys know this presumption is important because it’s easier to get disability benefits for presumptive conditions.
So-called Brown Water veterans generally have an easier time demonstrating this presumption. These are the veterans who served on water crafts that operated in rivers and other inland waterways in Vietnam. “Blue Water” veterans, however, did not go ashore or into the inland waterways.
The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the VA’s position in 2008. That meant Blue Water veterans had to show direct exposure to Agent Orange to be compensated for a related illness.
However, in 2019, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act was signed into law. The law went into effect January 1, 2020. It extends presumptive service connection for Agent Orange exposure to Blue Water Navy veterans. Veterans who served on a vessel not more than 12 nautical miles from Vietnam are now eligible. They must have served from January 9, 1962 to May 7, 1975. The law also extends coverage to veterans who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Ask a Mobile, AL veterans attorney for details about the changes made by this law.
The following conditions are presumed to be related to herbicide (including Agent Orange) exposure:
- Amyloid light-chain (AL) amyloidosis
- Chloracne, or other acneform disease consistent with chloracne
- Chronic B-cell leukemias
- Diabetes mellitus, Type 2
- Ischemic heart disease
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma, formerly known as Hodgkin’s disease
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
- 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)
It’s important to speak with an experienced veterans benefits lawyer if you have a condition related to Agent Orange exposure. Veterans who are eligible for compensation may receive monthly disability compensation and free healthcare related to their Agent Orange disability. The amount of your monthly benefits will depend on several factors, such as the nature and level of your disability.
The law made other changes as well, particularly to the VA Home Loan program. All veterans are now eligible for the no down payment option on guaranteed home loans, regardless of the mortgage amount. National Guard and Reserve members will also see a decrease in the VA funding fee.
If you’re a Blue Water Navy veteran who was previously denied benefits for Agent Orange-related conditions, you should take action. You will need to file in order to open your previously denied claim. Survivors of deceased Blue Water Navy veterans may also be able to file for compensation. Having a skilled Mobile, AL veterans benefits lawyer by your side is highly recommended. Your attorney can help you apply for and appeal any decisions regarding veterans disability benefits.
You should begin gathering the evidence you will need for your claim now. That includes:
- Service records, including the name of your vessel and dates served
- Medical records regarding your Agent Orange-related condition
- Information concerning your medical treatment
We’re Here To Help Blue Water Navy Veterans
The recent change in the law is good news for Blue Water Navy veterans. But they still have the challenge of filing (and appealing, if necessary) their veterans disability claims. At Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC, we understand the VA benefits process. We can work on your claim and help you obtain the compensation you need for your Agent Orange-related condition. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.