Vietnam Blue Water Veterans May Soon Receive Their Benefits

Almost 90,000 veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals on their ships off the coast of Vietnam, but were previously not given presumptive  exposure  status because they did not have boots on the ground, may soon be receiving the disability compensation they deserve.

Without presumptive exposure  status, veterans suffering the conditions that are recognized as having been caused by these chemicals have had to prove direct exposure in order for their illnesses to be considered service-connected.  This is especially challenging so many years after the fact because data about exposure by the ships was never collected at the time.

The House approved the plan to grant presumptive exposure status by a vote of 382 – 0.  It now must be approved by the Senate.  Action in that chamber was briefly delayed by the need to confirm new VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.  With that completed, the Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee said the Blue Water issue will be top priority for 2018.

The bill passed in the House also gives presumptive exposure status to veterans who served in the Korean Peninsula Demilitarized Zone from September, 1967 until August, 1971, which is the same end date as the Vietnam War.

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