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Supporting Blue Water Navy Veterans

As representative of the nation’s fastest-growing veteran population, I’ve worked hard to restore coverage and benefits for our “Blue Water Navy” veterans.
 
I was proud to support President Donald Trump when he signed into law H.R. 299, the bipartisan Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. This was an incredible achievement that ended the decades-long fight to restore VA disability benefits for Blue Water Navy veterans for illnesses linked to exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
 
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the 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:
  • AL amyloidosis
  • Chloracne or similar acneform disease
  • Chronic B-cell leukemias
  • Diabetes mellitus Type 2
  • Hodgkin lymphoma, formerly known as Hodgkin’s disease
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, formerly known as Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy, early-onset
  • Porphyria cutanea tarda
  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx or trachea)
  • Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma or mesothelioma).
For more information about Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam waters, visit https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/agent-orange/navy-coast-guard-ships-vietnam/.
 
Veterans seeking more information should contact their Veterans Service Officer, call VA’s toll-free number at 800-827-1000 or visit the VA Blue Water Navy Agent Orange website.
 
As always, my Congressional office stands ready to help veterans navigate through the bureaucracy and backlog at the VA. If you need assistance, please call 704.786.1612 or visit https://hudson.house.gov/help-with-a-federal-agency1.
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