Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

veterans' issues Archives

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act - June 2019 UPDATE

On June 12, 2019, Congress passed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019.  The bill now goes to the President to be signed into law.  The bill comes in large response to a major victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit earlier this year.  This bill would extend presumptive benefits to "Blue Water" veterans who served on Navy ships off the coast of Vietnam.  The bill also covers veterans who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971, as well as children born to veterans who served in Thailand between January 1962 and May 1975 who have spina bifida. 

Answers to some common questions about VA compensation

Many people living in Mobile, Alabama and its surrounding areas today served in a branch of the United States military at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, several of them sustained a disabling injury during the course of their service. Those veterans would be aware of the disability benefits that are offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and also the basis on which those benefits are offered.

Asbestos Exposure, Mesothelioma, and the Effect on Veterans

Veterans who served in any branch of the US military between the 1930s and 1990s are at risk of having been exposed to asbestos during their period of service and could be entitled to disability benefits from VA. Veterans who were exposed to asbestos in-service and have since developed mesothelioma, asbestosis, pulmonary fibrosis, or other respiratory illnesses may apply for disability benefits from VA for these conditions. Most Americans have heard of asbestos or mesothelioma, but many of us do not know what the conditions are or who is affected by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral with valuable traits such as fire resistance, fire proofing capabilities, and insulating qualities. These qualities made asbestos perfect for use in the construction of ships, tanks, trucks, aircraft, and even barracks and other military structures in use from the 1930s until the 1990s. All branches of the US military used asbestos widely from 1935-1975 and continued use of structures, vehicles, and vessels with asbestos into the 1990s. When asbestos breaks apart, they release fibers into the air that, when inhaled, can cause mesothelioma and other respiratory problems.

SSD benefits for veterans rated "100% P&T" by the VA

Although unfortunate, it is a fact that many former military members from Alabama, and also the other parts of the country, suffered a disabling injury or illness while they were on active duty. Among those veterans, there are many whose total disability rating has been determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs as 100 percent permanent and total. Fortunately, veterans rated "100% P&T" by the VA are eligible for certain additional benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program.

In addition to VA benefits, veterans eligible for SSD benefits

Our city, Mobile, Alabama, is home to a significant population that served in the United States military. Some of those veterans sustained injuries while on active duty, which developed into a disabling condition in due course. Those veterans may know that in addition to the benefits offered by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, they are eligible for Social Security disability benefits provided their injuries meet the eligibility criteria set by the Social Security Administration.

CAVC Defines "Substantial Gainful Employment"

On March 14, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims issued a decision in Rey v. Wilkie to define substantial gainful employment (SGA). This is a relevant case for anyone who has a pending Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) claim. Previously, the Board of Veterans Appeals did not have a definition of the term SGA, and therefore, it was impossible to know if the veteran was actually able to perform SGA.

Current Status of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Procopio Decision

On January 29, 2019, a 9-2 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned past court opinions and stated that the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot deny disability benefits to Vietnam veterans who claim exposure to cancer-causing chemical defoliants merely because those veterans served in the waters off the coastline of Vietnam and not inland. This is a major victory for "blue water" Navy veterans who have fought for years over these denials.

Benefits for veterans affected by Agent Orange

Veterans here in Alabama are well aware that during the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed Agent Orange, a defoliating agent, to clear vegetation from enemy territory. In addition, it was possible for some veterans to have contacted this dangerous chemical outside of Vietnam and Korea, in particular in bases in Thailand or while working with planes used to transport the chemical. Unfortunately, at that time the military was unaware of the various harmful effects of Agent Orange on all those who were exposed to it.

VA Disability for burn pit exposure

Although they are not readily awarded and difficult to obtain, veterans' disability benefits are available for burn pit exposure. However, there must be concrete evidence to show that the issues a veteran is experiencing are the direct result of the exposure to a burn pit that contained toxic substances.

3M Military Combat Arms Earplug Lawsuit

The Minnesota-based 3M Company, a defense contractor, sold its dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, to the military without disclosing defects that decreased the effectiveness of the hearing protection. 3M violated the False Claims Act by selling or causing to be sold defective 3M ear plugs to the U.S. military. 3M decided to settle in order to avoid a lengthy legal battle. These defective earplugs were standard-issue for U.S. military members from 2003 to 2015. The defective ear plugs may have caused significant hearing loss or tinnitus in military Veterans.

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