In April the U.S. Supreme Court pumped the brakes on awarding benefits to “Blue Water” Navy veterans who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The high court granted a 30-day extension to Department of Justice officials who are anticipating an appeal to a lower court ruling made earlier this year.
That federal court ruling, which we reported on in this newsletter in February, cleared the way for thousands of Navy veterans of the Vietnam War who may have been exposed to Agent Orange to become eligible for VA disability benefits. The ruling grants presumptive disability status to the more than 90,000 “Blue Water” Navy veterans who served offshore during that conflict. Previously compensation was only available to those sailors who actually set foot in Vietnam and those who were on boats in inland rivers—often referred to as the “Brown Water” Navy.
However, veterans advocates quoted in a Military Times article say they “not concerned by the move, calling it a typical legal maneuver and not a serious threat to getting benefits to [this group of Navy] veterans. ‘This just seems to be going through the motions,’ said John Wells, a retired Navy commander and the executive director Military-Veterans Advocacy, which has lobbied on the issue for years.”