The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun processing claims covered under HR 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019.
The law was passed months ago, but the VA immediately placed a stay on the bill. The stay was lifted on Jan. 1.
The bill covers some sailors who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War despite not setting foot on land. The bill restricts claims to those who served on ship 12 miles from the baseline (which in some cases is farther than the shore). However, the Procopio court decision earlier in 2019 expands that range even further, and we believe veterans who are not covered under HR 299 deserve coverage under Procopio.
Specifically, HR 299 applies to veterans who served between Jan. 6, 1962 and May, 1975, as well as those who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone between Jan. 1, 1967 and Aug. 31, 1971.
“These Veterans can now apply for disability compensation and other benefits if they have since developed one of 14 conditions that are presumed to be related to exposure to herbicides,” the VA said in a statement. “Veterans do not need to prove that they were exposed to herbicides.”
Some of those conditions include leukemia, Hodgkin’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease.
“Blue Water Navy claims are being processed under current prioritization criteria; however, special priority is being given to Veterans who are over the age of 85 or have a terminal condition,” the statement adds. “Qualifying recipients include affected Veterans who are still living and certain survivors of deceased BWN and Korean DMZ Veterans.”