Jul 26, 2011

Blue Water Veterans Seek Presumptive Benefits for Agent Orange Exposure

Vietnam veterans who had "boots on the ground" or served on ships on Vietnams's inland waterways (Brown Water veterans) are entitled to VA service-related benefits and health care if they develop any of the 14 diseases linked to exposure to Agent Orange. It is presumed that any of these diseases was caused by exposure to Agent Orange. These diseases include prostate cancer, certain heart conditions, and Parkinson's disease. Surviving spouses, dependent children, and dependent parents may also be eligible for death benefits due to the death of their Vietnam veteran spouse, parent, or child.

However, if you are a  Blue Water veteran - someone who served on oceangoing vessels off the Vietnam coast - you are not entitled to these presumptive service benefits. According to a report released earlier this year by the Department of Veterans Affairs, there is no conclusive proof that Blue Water veterans were exposed to Agent Orange. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association disagrees, noting that among other things, sailors on these vessels regularly drank distilled seawater. 

While the V.A. continues mulling over the report, Congress is entertaining several bills that would make Blue Water vets eligible for the same benefits enjoyed by ground troops and Brown Water personnel.. Of course, every delay in granting them eligibility means there will be less Blue Water vets around to actually collect. The current number of  eligible Blue Water Vietnam vets ranges from 60,000 to  800,000.

To find out more about V.A. benefits that can cover an elderly veteran's (or veteran's widow) cost of nursing home care, assisted living or home care, click here.

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