According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 34 million Americans have diabetes, and one in five people aren’t aware that they have this condition. Additionally, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. So, if you're a blue water veteran with kidney disease as a secondary condition to diabetes, you may be entitled to VA benefits. But how? Let's discuss diabetes as a whole before diving in.
Talk to Us About Diabetes
Diabetes is a serious, chronic disease that affects how the body uses blood sugar for energy. If you suffer from Type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the cells in your body ignore the insulin you produce. Insulin is a hormone that takes sugar from your bloodstream and places it into cells. When your body can’t respond properly to insulin, carbohydrates aren’t processed correctly, and this elevates your level of glucose. This elevation eventually causes damage to your blood vessels and organs.
If diabetes goes untreated, it can cause a variety of other medical conditions, including stroke, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, and kidney disease. Veterans who suffer from kidney disease as a secondary condition to Type 2 diabetes are eligible for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Specifically, Blue Water Navy veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam are also eligible and will find that Type 2 diabetes is on the Agent Orange presumptive list of conditions.
Blue Water Navy Veterans and Exposure to Agent Orange
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed a mix of herbicides as a tactical defoliant to remove tree leaves, crops, plants, and dense vegetation in Vietnam that provided cover for the enemy. Called Agent Orange, this toxin was later linked to many serious diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, which can cause kidney disease.
Thousands of servicemembers were exposed to Agent Orange, including those who served offshore and aboard ships in the open waters off the Vietnam coast in what is known as the “Blue Water Navy.” But because these servicemembers never had “boots on the ground,” meaning their feet never touched Vietnam soil during service, they were ineligible for VA disability benefits when they returned home and suffered from major medical conditions.
These servicemembers worked on ships that pumped in water for laundry and showering, as well as for drinking—water that was likely contaminated. Some of the ships entered inland waterways and docked in Vietnam. Exposure to Agent Orange may have come through air exposure when the spray drifted through the atmosphere, as well as through food and soil contamination.
Disability Benefits for Agent Orange Conditions
In 2019, when a federal court ruled in the case of Procopio v. Wilkie, over 90,000 Blue Water Navy veterans were given “presumption of service-connection” for medical conditions linked to Agent Orange. These medical conditions include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Peripheral neuropathy and early-onset peripheral neuropathy
- AL amyloidosis
- Ischemic heart disease
- Multiple myeloma, Hodgkin’s disease, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Lung, trachea, and prostate cancer
- Chronic B-cell leukemia
- Soft tissue sarcomas
- Porphyria cutanea tarda
Contact the VA Disability Benefits Attorneys at Cuddigan Law
Blue Water veterans are eligible for VA disability benefits for their service-connected conditions, including those caused by exposure to Agent Orange. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and have kidney disease, it’s important that you receive all the benefits you deserve by applying for a secondary service connection for that condition.
If you are a Blue Water Navy veteran and believe your medical condition is linked to Agent Orange exposure, especially if you have Type 2 diabetes and/or kidney disease, contact our attorneys at Cuddigan Law. Our VA disability benefits attorneys have been supporting veterans for years, and we will help document your diabetes and/or kidney disease with your treating medical providers to describe the full extent of your limitations. We know exactly how much these disability benefits mean to you. If we accept your case, we will take all steps within the law to help you get them. If your medical condition is making it impossible for you to work, contact Cuddigan Law to speak with an intake specialist for free.