Excerpts taken from the VAntage Point Blog – written by J. Slider
This week the Department of Veterans Affairs official blog, VAntage Point, addressed the findings of the recent ruling on the affects of Agent Orange on Blue Water Sailors —those who served on deep water Navy or Coast Guard vessels. In summary, the report stated that the exposure of Viet Nam era Blue Water Navy Veterans to Agent Orange cannot reasonably be determined due to a lack of data on environmental concentrations of Agent Orange contaminants.
Although this means that this group of veterans do not have a presumptive connection to AO, it does not mean that Blue Water Navy Veterans can’t submit claims and apply for benefits if they feel they were exposed to AO. In fact, as the VA blog points out, the VA has recognized claims from Vietnam Veterans whose ships entered inland waterways, and/or docked at specific times and locations, if they claim that they went ashore. So far, this applies to 140 ships and 51 classes of vessels. Veterans who were aboard these ships are eligible for benefits based on the presumption that their diseases are associated with their service in Vietnam. You can find the list of ships and vessels linked on the Blue Water Navy Veterans website.
The VAntage Point blog also points out that non-Hodgkins lymphoma is an exception to the IOM “Blue Water” findings. Blue Water Veterans claiming non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a disability may be granted service-connection without showing inland waterway service or that they set foot in Vietnam. This is because VA also recognizes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as associated with service in Vietnam or the waters offshore of Vietnam during the Vietnam Era.
Read the full VAntage Point blog article for more details and a timeline of events on the subject.