Blue Water Navy Veterans May Be Eligible For Agent Orange Benefits

Certain Navy veterans of the Vietnam War may eligible for VA benefits due to possible exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange. Currently compensation is only available to those sailors who set foot in Vietnam and those who were on boats in inland rivers—often referred to as the “Brown Water” Navy.

Veterans who served in Vietnam should check the ships list before filing a claim. The VA maintains a list of all U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships that operated near Vietnam during the conflict. A veteran who served aboard a listed ship on Vietnam’s inland waterways or visited the country will automatically be given presumption of exposure.

Unfortunately, the VA has not granted a presumptive disability to the more than 90,000 “Blue Water” Navy veterans who served offshore in Vietnam. Many of those sailors say they were exposed to the deadly brew of chemicals because their ships pumped in potentially contaminated water which was used for showers and laundry and even distilled for drinking. Under the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the Blue Water vets were declared eligible for compensation, but the VA changed its ruling ten years later.

Although the VA has not granted a presumptive disability to “Blue Water” Navy veterans in Vietnam, there are many ways to prove exposure to Agent Orange during the specified time. If your ship did not enter inland waterways, you may still be presumed exposed if your ship docked to shore or sent boats and returning crew members ashore.

Exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to a broad range of illnesses, including diabetes, various cancers, Parkinson’s Disease, peripheral neuropathy, and a type of heart disease. 

Proving that you are disabled can be a frustrating process, especially if you are struggling with the medical symptoms of your condition. At Cuddigan Law, we can take the burden of applying for benefits or appealing your denial  off your hands and deal with the VA on your behalf and you don’t pay us anything until your benefits have been won. Call us today at (402) 933-5405 to get started.

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska