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Blue Water Veterans Win Rights to Agent Orange Disability Benefits

On January 29, 2019 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled by a 9-2 vote that could extend Agent Orange disability benefits to roughly 90,000 Blue Water Navy veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam.

The 9-2 court ruling in favor of Alfred Procopio Jr., who suffers from diabetes and prostate cancer, served during the summer of 1966 on the aircraft carrier Intrepid while in the blue waters off the coast of Vietnam. Due to lack of scientific evidence that his ailments were related to Agent Orange exposure or other toxic defoliants, he had been denied veterans benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Both conditions are on the VA list of 14 ailments “presumptively” linked with Agent Orange exposure, which entitles disability benefits to veterans if they served on the ground or the inland waters of Vietnam for a time between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975. Those who served off the coast are not eligible.

The pending legislation will extend disability benefits and VA medical care to Navy veterans who were deployed decades ago in the “blue waters” off Vietnam. These veterans are now either ill, or dead, due to ailments associated with Agent Orange or other defoliant exposures during the war.

The VA has yet to decide whether to appeal by petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the decision in Procopio v. Wilkie or continue to oppose congressional efforts to pass a bill mandating veterans benefits and health care for the Blue Water veterans.

“VA is reviewing this decision and will determine an appropriate response,” a spokesman said.

Earlier this month Paul Lawrence, head of the Veterans Benefits Administration, said the VA still lacks “sufficient evidence” to prove a presumptive link between service off the coast of Vietnam and the illnesses caused by the widespread use of Agent Orange, during a VA town hall meeting webcast.

Major veterans organizations hailed the court’s decision and urged Congress to move quickly on legislation for the aging Blue Water veterans.

If you are a veteran who actively served within 12 nautical miles from the coast of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, please give us a call at 1-888-231-9144 or fill out the form on this website.

Read the whole story here: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/01/30/supporters-push-blue-water-navy-bill-after-court-ruling.html

And here: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/01/31/appeals-court-gives-blue-water-vets-win-congress-denied.html