Thousands of Vietnam Veterans may see the Agent Orange legal presumptions extended to them. Currently, vets who served in Vietnam (with boots on the ground) are able to get the benefit of Agent Orange legal presumptions when trying to obtain service connected benefits for various cancers, heart diseases, and/or diabetes – among other conditions. The article below, however, shows that legislation is pending to extend these legal presumptions to veterans who served off the shores of Vietnam. Legislation of this type is long overdue and is likely to benefit many Navy Veterans who served aboard aircraft carriers in the waters surrounding Vietnam. An article regarding this was recently printed in Stars and Stripes and is shared below:
House panel supports Agent Orange coverage for ‘Blue Water’ Navy Veterans
By Nikki Wentling, STARS AND STRIPES, Published: May 8, 2018
WASHINGTON — House lawmakers approved legislation Tuesday to extend Agent Orange
benefits to approximately 90,000 sailors who served off the coast during the Vietnam War.
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs voted unanimously to send a bill to the full House that would provide benefits to “Blue Water” Navy veterans, who were aboard aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and other ships and potentially exposed to Agent Orange. The dioxin-laden herbicide has been found to cause respiratory cancers, Parkinson’s disease and heart disease, as well as other conditions.
After years of fighting, Tuesday marks the first instance that legislation providing benefits for Blue Water veterans has advanced past the committee level. Lawmakers and veteran advocates who were gathered in the committee room joined in a round of applause after the vote.
“We began fighting for this bill in 2011,” said John Wells, an attorney and retired Navy officer. “It has been a long slog. I have personally visited every office on both the House and Senate side over these years.”
Increasing benefits for Blue Water veterans has been widely supported, and the bill sent to the House has more than 300 sponsors. Congress previously delayed progress on the issue because of cost concerns. Extending the benefits would cost $1.1 billion for 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office estimated.
Lawmakers approved the measure Tuesday because they agreed on a method to pay for it.
The bill would increase fees for servicemembers and veterans who use the VA’s home loan program. The increase would amount to $2.95 each month for homeowners who made no down payment. The increase would average $2.82 each month for people who made a 5 percent down payment and $2.14 each month for people who put 10 percent down.
The several lawmakers who spoke Tuesday in favor of the bill all made a similar remark – it was a measure “long overdue.”
“I’ve been contacted routinely by Blue Water Navy veterans suffering from diseases associated with Agent Orange,” said Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., the committee chairman. “In a few years, there will be very few Vietnam veterans remaining. They should not have to wait any longer.”
Medical conditions currently presumed to be caused by Agent Orange exposure can be found at https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/index.asp
If you are Vietnam Veteran who has one of these conditions, you should apply for benefits. Now, if you are a Vietnam Veteran who served off the shore of Vietnam, you should also apply for these benefits because legislation is likely to pass that will help you obtain these benefits.
Please call me at the number on this website if you have any questions regarding your eligibility for VA benefits.