Thousands of Navy veterans of the Vietnam War who may have been exposed to Agent Orange are now eligible for VA disability benefits after a federal court ruling cleared the way. The ruling grants presumptive disability status to the more than 90 thousand “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.

Many of sailors who served offshore in the “Blue Water” Navy during the Vietnam War say they were exposed to the deadly brew of Agent Orange 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 veterans were declared eligible for compensation, but the VA changed its ruling ten years later. Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has sided with a Vietnam veteran with cancer who sued the Department of Veterans Affairs. He argued that the VA should recognize that his health conditions were caused by Agent Orange. In a 9 to 2 decision, the court agreed and ruled that the 1991 law was clearly meant to include veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam.

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. These are considered “presumptive diseases,” meaning that if one of these conditions is diagnosed in a veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange, the veteran can qualify for disability benefits without the burden of proving the condition was caused by military service.

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 off of 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 to get started.


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