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.
This bill is a huge win for Veterans who suffer from one or more illness caused by exposure to Agent Orange. The VA has named 15 diseases as presumed to be related to herbicide exposure, including Hodgkin’s disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, early-onset peripheral neuropathy, porphyria cutanea tarda, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, soft-tissue sarcoma, chloracne, type-2 diabetes mellitus, light chain amyloidosis, ischemic heart disease, chronic B-cell leukemias, Parkinson’s disease, and spina bifida in offspring of veterans.
Prior to this, “Blue Water” veterans were required to prove exposure to Agent Orange in order to receive benefits for the illnesses listed above. Under the new case law and this bill, if signed into law, an estimated 80,000 Veterans may now be entitled to VA disability benefits under the presumption that they were exposed to Agent Orange while serving on a Navy vessel within 12 nautical miles of the coast of Vietnam.
Any Veteran who meets these criteria is urged to file a claim for benefits as soon as possible, even if he was previously denied for benefits. For more information on VA Disability Benefits, contact an experienced VA disability attorney at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. represents VA disability claimants in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana at all levels of the disability process