The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is preparing to process Agent Orange exposure claims for “Blue Water Navy” Veterans who served offshore of the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.
These Veterans may be eligible for presumption of herbicide exposure through Public Law 116-23, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, which was signed into law June 25, 2019, and goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020. They may also qualify for a presumption of service connection if they have a disease that is recognized as being associated with herbicide exposure.
Blue Water Navy Veterans are encouraged to submit disability compensation claims for conditions presumed to be related to Agent Orange exposure. Veterans over age 85 or with life-threatening illnesses will have priority in claims processing.
Veterans who previously were denied for an Agent Orange related presumptive condition can file a new claim based on the change in law. Eligible survivors of deceased Blue Water Navy Veterans also may benefit from the new law and may file claims for benefits based on the Veterans’ service.
The new law affects Veterans who served on a vessel operating not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia, as defined in Public Law 116-23. An estimated 420,000 to 560,000 Vietnam-era Veterans may be considered Blue Water Navy Veterans.
To qualify under the new law, these Veterans must have a disease associated with herbicide exposure, as listed in 38 Code of Federal Regulations section 3.309(e).
Agent Orange presumptive conditions are:
Editors Note: Below are key changes that the VA will be considering when processing these claims.
“May allow previously denied claimants whose claims are granted to be eligible for a retroactive effective date (they must fill out the right form)
Moves the start date to be eligible for a presumption of service connection based on herbicide exposure in the Korean DMZ from April 1, 1968 to September 1, 1967.
May provide benefits for spina bifida (except spina bifida occulta) to children of Vets with covered service in Thailand between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975.
VBA will concede all service within Da Nang Harbor as qualifying offshore waters under the new law.
VA is sending outreach letter to Veterans and eligible survivors.”