Certain "Blue Water" Navy Vietnam Veterans Now Eligible For Agent Orange Presumptive Service-Connected Compensation Benefits

Agent Orange was an herbicide sprayed in Southeast Asia and other locations during the Vietnam Era. Exposure to Agent Orange has been related to many serious diseases, such as prostate cancer, lung cancer, larynx cancer, trachea cancer, bronchus cancer, multiple myeloma, Hodgkin’s disease, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and type 2 diabetes. There is a special rule that creates a legal presumption that a veteran who has a disease listed above was exposed to Agent Orange during the veteran’s service in Vietnam. As a result, the veteran will not be required to prove that he or she was exposed to Agent Orange in order to receive compensation benefits and medical care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Rather, the VA will simply presume that a veteran was exposed to Agent Orange if he or she has a disease listed above and the veteran served at least one day on the landmass of Vietnam or served on its inland waterways between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975.

Unfortunately, until recently so-called “blue water” navy veterans, veterans who served in the waters offshore of Vietnam but never set foot on the landmass of Vietnam or served on its inland waterways, were NOT entitled to the presumption of Agent Orange exposure. However, this month the VA changed its policy concerning “blue water” navy veterans” to some extent. In January 2010, the VA issued a bulletin identifying (1) a number of offshore “blue water” naval vessels that conducted operations on the inland rivers and delta areas of Vietnam, and (2) certain vessel types that operated primarily or exclusively on the inland waterways. The VA has now ruled that exposure to Agent Orange can be presumed without further development if a veteran served aboard one of these ships and his or her service can be confirmed through military records.  This new ruling finally opens the door for many of these deserving veterans and their dependents to get much needed compensation and medical benefits.

See the attached VA January 2010 Compensation and Pension Bulletin

UPDATED AUGUST 15, 2010: See attached June 2010 VA Compensation and Pension Bulletin related to the addition of ships to Agent Orange presumptive conditions.  Veterans who are diagnosed with a presumptive Agent Orange condition who served on one of these ships can now file a VA compensation claim for service-connected disability.

The bulletin is attached here – Brown Water Vessels from CP Bulletin – June 2010