Congress has been working on a bill for the Blue Water Veterans to receive the same benefits as those who served in Vietnam and qualify for Agent Orange compensation. On May 8th, the bill passed to go along to the House.
Through this new bill, thousands of Veterans who are struggling to make ends meet will now qualify for coverage through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Who are the BWV?
Blue Water Veterans are men and woman who served on a Blue Water Navy ship and docked at any of the inland waterways of Vietnam. Those who served between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, were most likely affected by Agent Orange, according to Vets.gov.
Agent Orange is a chemical used to clear debris and garbage in Vietnam. Those affected by these chemicals now have serious health repercussions from the chemicals.
It is presumed that these Navy Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange through their drinking water, doing laundry, and cleaning. The contaminated water which was supposed to be distilled through the ship instead had harmful side effects.
Recently, Congress has been fighting to get the Blue Water Veterans more coverage. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 was recently passed. On May 8th, the Senate decided to give the bill onto the House.
If this bill gains final approval, over 90,000 Veterans affected will finally receive healthcare from the VA, as well as compensation under Agent Orange disability. Those included will be the thousands who were previously denied because they never physically stepped on Vietnam soil.
The VA is promising to reward every Veteran who had their claim denied from Agent Orange exposure, or it was later taken away due to the changes the VA made in 2002.
The new bill will also be backdated, from, Sept 1, 1967, according to VFW.
How to check if you qualify
You will still need to apply for your claim as usual and obtain your medical records. You will need to prove to the VA that you either went ashore in Vietnam or your ship qualifies as one that docked near the shore.
The VA has in place a database with all of the affected ships from the Blue Water Veterans. If you believe there to be a mistake on the list for your boat, you can appeal it. You must first do your homework though.
In order to appeal to change the VA’s list of the registered ships, the Veteran applying must first apply under an Agent Orange claim. This claim must be in before the VA begins to look into a ship. To qualify, your ship needs to have docked in Vietnam. For the full list of rules, visit the VA’s page.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 has the potential to help thousands of Vietnam Veterans begin a better life if it passes. One more step the VA is making in the right direction.
Updated on January 31, 2019
A long overdue decision was made this week to allow all Veterans who served in Vietnams territorial sea and have a qualifying disease will be presumed eligible for VA Disability Benefits.
Alfred Procopio Jr. brought the appeal to the court. He served on the USS Intrepid which was deployed off the coast of Vietnam and the VA denied him from his symptoms because he was not “present on the landmass or the inland waters of Vietnam.”
With this new appeal, no other Veteran who served on Vietnams territorial seas will have to worry about having their Agent Orange symptom disabilities linked to service.
More information about the court case is available here.