A bill was recently introduced to the Senate that would give more Blue Water veterans benefits for being exposed to Agent Orange during Vietnam, according to an article in The Leaf Chronicle. The new bill will provide a basis of eligibility for over 250,000 Naval veterans, many of whom are already classified as veterans with disabilities but have been unable to draw benefits.
A Blue Water veteran is a name used to describe those veterans who served on ships in the waters surrounding Vietnam but didn’t step into Vietnam and didn’t “traverse inland waterways.” In 2002, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decided that only veterans who had served on Vietnam land could draw benefits from the VA’s presumptive illness list for Agent Orange exposure. This ultimately left out about 250,000 from being considered for VA benefits.
Recent studies, however, have demonstrated that Agent Orange infected on-board water sources, troops in airplanes transporting the toxic defoliant, and directly affected sailors on ships downwind from areas where Agent Orange was deployed.
The Agent Orange Equity Act of 2011 would ensure that Blue Water veterans are considered eligible for VA benefits due to Agent Orange exposure. The bill will allow coverage for those who served “within the territorial seas or approximately 12 miles offshore of Vietnam.”
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from Veterans Help Group is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veterans disability rights firm today – 1-855-855-8992.