The new year has brought some relief for Vietnam veterans. Effective on January 1, 2020, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 provides that veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange while serving on ships in the vicinity of Vietnam or working on the storage or testing of the dangerous chemical between 1962 and 1975 may be eligible for new or increased benefits. In fact, if you are in one of these categories and unsuccessfully filed a claim last year, you are advised to file again.
Signed into law by President Trump last June, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act guarantees that Navy Veterans get the same access to coverage as veterans who served on land, for conditions linked to Agent Orange exposure.
Under the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, Agent Orange-related coverage extends to Navy veterans who were within 12 nautical miles of the shores of Vietnam at some point during the period of reference and those who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone between 9/1/1967 and 8/31/1971.
Veterans suffering from one of a list of presumptive diseases linked to Agent Orange do not have to prove exposure to the chemical to receive disability benefits. Until this year, this only applied to those who had served either on land or around Vietnam’s inland waterways. Thanks to the new law, a large number of previously neglected veterans will finally receive the benefits they deserve.
Currently Approved Presumptive Diseases
- AL amyloidosis
- Chloracne (or other types of acneiform diseases like it)
- Chronic B-cell leukemia
- Diabetes mellitus type 2
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Ischemic heart disease
- Multiple myelomas
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Peripheral neuropathy, early-onset
- Porphyria cutanea tarda
- Prostate cancer
- Respiratory cancers (including lung cancer)
- Soft tissue sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
Coverage for Other Conditions
Children suffering from spina bifida whose parent was exposed to Agent Orange during service in Thailand can also access benefits. Vietnam and Korean DMZ veterans suffering from conditions not listed above are required to provide scientific evidence linking their health problem (or its worsening) to Agent Orange exposure.
Proposed ‘Fair Care’ Legislation Could Add Bladder Cancer, Parkinson’s, Hypertension, and Hypothyroidism to List of Presumptive Diseases
Representative Josh Harder (CA-10), who co-sponsored the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, has also introduced the Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act, alongside Rep. Pete Stauber (MN-08). Harder recently said in a press release that “The VA’s decision to ignore the results of real scientific evidence and wait on the outcome of other studies means dragging out care for over 83,000 Vietnam Veterans struggling with bladder cancer, Parkinsonism, hypertension, or hypothyroidism who must struggle without the benefits they deserve for at least a year.”
Rep. Harder, a passionate advocate for veterans rights, has stated, “These guys have waited for over 40 years for the benefits they earned and should have been getting decades ago. . . No more studies. No more excuses. Everyone seems to think this is the right thing to do except for some Washington bureaucrats – it’s time to stop playing games and give our vets the benefits they earned.” Rep. Stauber and Rep. Harder’s Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act would add Parkinson’s, bladder cancer, hypertension, and hypothyroidism to the list of presumptive diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure.
For Joy J. Ilem, National Legislative Director, Disabled American Veterans, “Veterans with terminal illnesses such as bladder cancer cannot continue to wait on VA’s needless delays, as they need access to VA health care and benefits now.”
Have you previously been denied rights to your benefits due to Agent Orange side effects? Contact our veteran’s disability lawyers who can help you with your case in light of the new rules. Contact us today at 888.878.9350 or Use This Online Form.