Blue-water vets see restoration of benefits

Law helps those suffering from Vietnam exposure to Agent Orange

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 8/12/19

Vietnam veterans including blue-water veterans, and Vietnam veterans’ widows who have not remarried, may benefit from the recently signed Blue Water Vietnam Veterans Act, and are encouraged to …

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Blue-water vets see restoration of benefits

Law helps those suffering from Vietnam exposure to Agent Orange

Posted

Vietnam veterans including blue-water veterans, and Vietnam veterans’ widows who have not remarried, may benefit from the recently signed Blue Water Vietnam Veterans Act, and are encouraged to contact Elbert County Veteran Service Office.

“The Blue Water Vietnam Veterans Act, signed into law recently, restores VA benefits to sailors and Marines suffering from Agent Orange-related illnesses, who served aboard ships off the Vietnamese coast between 1962 and 1975,” said Ric Morgan, with the Elbert County Veterans Service Office. “Any Vietnam veterans or un-remarried widows should contact the office to review VA benefits and eligibility.”

In Procopio v. Wilkie, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit handed down a 9-2 decision ruling that all blue-water Vietnam veterans are now eligible to file Agent-Orange related VA claims. Historically sailors stationed offshore were referred to as the blue-water Navy, as opposed to the “brown water” sailors, who were on Vietnam’s rivers, inland waterways and harbors. Blue-water sailors have been excluded from benefits related to dioxin-tainted herbicide used during the war.

The ruling also allows un-remarried widows of veterans to file for benefits, if the veteran’s death was attributed to one of the Agent-Orange-related conditions. Benefits for children born with spina bifida due to a parent’s exposure have been expanded as well.

According to Morgan, as many as 90,000 veterans who had their disability benefits taken away by the VA in 2002 after arbitrary regulatory changes will again be eligible. Those who have been denied benefits may now qualify, and Morgan encourages them to call and revisit their eligibility.

“Here in Elbert County, any veteran or un-remarried widow should call to review their claim,” said Morgan.

Morgan can be reached at 303-520-6088, or via email at morgan@hayday.org. A full list of Agent Orange-related conditions can be found at www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions.

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