Certain Navy veterans seeking compensation for possible exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War have lost another round with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Once again they have been turned down for medical benefits.
In a recently released fact sheet, the VA said it “would continue to limit benefits related to Agent Orange exposure to only those veterans who set foot in Vietnam, where the herbicide was sprayed, and to those who were on boats in inland rivers [often referred to as the Brown Water Navy].” Advocates for Navy Vietnam veterans who served offshore (often referred to as the Blue Water Navy) say they were exposed to defoliant chemicals because their ships pumped in potentially contaminated water which was used for showers and laundry and even distilled for drinking.
“Environmental health experts in VA’s Veterans Health Administration have reviewed the available scientific information and concluded that it is not sufficient to support a presumption that Blue Water Navy Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange,” the VA said.
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. 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.