Blue Water Veterans May See Benefits
By USVCP Staff
May 5, 2018
More than 90,000 veterans who served in ships off the Vietnam coastline may become eligible for disability benefits under a new congressional agreement recently unveiled.
Members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will vote next week on a plan to cover benefits for “Blue Water Navy veterans.”
At issue is VA’s process regarding presumptive status for exposure to Agent Orange and other dangerous wartime chemicals.
Under current department rules, troops who served on the ground in Vietnam or patrolled inland rivers are assumed to have been working with or near the chemical defoliants, and are given special status when filing for disability benefits.
Current stipulations for Blue Water veterans is that they must prove they were directly exposed to Agent Orange for their illnesses to be labeled as service-connected. As it stands, in most cases, collecting scientific evidence of the presence of any harmful defoliant on or near Navy ships from the Vietnam era is impossible, given the many decades that have passed.
A ruling will be made May 8, 2018, to determine if benefits will be extended to more than 90,000 Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans who served in the territorial waters of Vietnam, veterans who served in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), as well as to children of certain Thailand veterans born with spina bifida.