Blue Water Veterans Bill Passes House – What’s Next?

A bill has passed the House of Representatives that will extend the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange for “Blue Water Veterans”, veterans that served off the coast during the Vietnam War.

This is a major victory for Blue Water Vets who have been denied benefits for their Agent Orange related conditions. The bill must also pass the Senate and then signed into law by the President, and it is likely that it will without much resistance.

Once it is passed into law, the VA will develop regulations to implement this new extension of presumption to Blue Water Veterans. Special consideration should be paid with how the VA implements the new law.

The VA may decide to grant a Blue Water Veteran’s Agent Orange claim, however, the effective date may reflect the date of the law change and not the date of the claim. That is unacceptable. We saw this with the Camp Lejeune law that was passed in March 2017.

If you are a Blue Water Veteran and the VA does not grant you the correct effective date, specifically, the date of the filing of your claim, then that is an issue that can and should be appealed. Our VA Disability attorneys will help you hold the VA accountable and assist with your effective date appeals.

Gulf War Syndrome/Illness related Conditions – VA Benefits

The VA recognizes certain conditions are related to a veteran’s service in the Middle East. Specifically, if you have any of the following conditions or symptoms, you may be entitled to VA Disability Benefits:
  • Fatigue

  • Signs or symptoms involving skin

  • Headaches

  • Muscle pains

  • Joint pains

  • Neurological signs or symptoms

  • Neuropsychological signs or symptoms

  • Respiratory signs or symptoms

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Gastrointestinal signs or symptoms

  • Cardiovascular signs or symptoms

  • Abnormal weight loss

  • Menstrual disorders

In addition to those issues, the VA also grants a presumption for an “undiagnosed illness” or a medical unexplained condition resulting in symptoms such as: chronic fatigue syndrome; fibromyalgia; and functional gastrointestinal disorders.

The VA may deny your claim by citing to medical evidence that your condition is medically diagnosed or of a known etiology. The VA often misdiagnoses conditions or uses a faulty Compensation and Pension (C&P) examination as the basis for the decision. Do not accept the VA’s decision without consulting a VA Disability Benefits Attorney to ensure the VA is giving you the benefit of the doubt.

If you served in the Gulf and are suffering from an unknown or unexplained illness that the VA denied, contact VA Disability Attorney Ryan Coskrey today for a free consultation.

Disabilities related to Agent Orange

The U.S. military sprayed more than 20 million gallons of various herbicides over Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos from 1961 to 1971. Agent Orange, which contained the deadly chemical dioxin, was the most commonly used herbicide sprayed during the war. The chemicals were also used and handled in various other military installations across the world.

For years, the VA denied that Agent Orange and other herbicides caused long-term health effects. Medical studies and Congressional action forced the VA to recognize the harm caused by the exposure to these chemicals.

Currently, the VA recognizes the following conditions are related to exposure to Agent Orange:

  • AL amyloidosis

  • Chloracne or other acneform disease consistent with chloracne

  • Type 2 diabetes (also known as Type II diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes)

  • Hodgkin’s disease

  • Ischemic heart disease (including, but not limited to, acute, subacute, and old myocardial infarction; atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease including coronary artery disease (including coronary spasm) and coronary bypass surgery; and stable, unstable and Prinzmetal’s angina)

  • All chronic B-cell leukemias (including, but not limited to, hairy-cell leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia)

  • Multiple myeloma

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Early-onset peripheral neuropathy

  • Porphyria cutanea tarda

  • Prostate cancer

  • Respiratory cancers (cancer of the lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea)

  • Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)

If you were exposed to Agent Orange during service in the Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, or Laos, and suffer or suffered from one of the aforementioned conditions then you may be entitled to VA Disability Benefits.

The VA only recognizes service in the Republic of Vietnam as “boots on the ground” and does not extend the presumption to certain veterans who served in “Blue Water” areas around the coast of Vietnam. If you served in the Navy and at some point you went ashore or within the inland waterways of Vietnam, you may be eligible for VA Disability Benefits.

Other conditions are not yet considered to be “presumptively linked” with Agent Orange, such as hypertension. Medical evidence has already established a link between hypertension and Agent Orange exposure and the VA may soon recognize the link.

It is important to note that even if you do not fall into any of the “presumptive” categories, you may still be eligible for benefits. If you have medical evidence, such as a doctor’s opinion, that your condition is related to Agent Orange or other herbicide exposure then you may be eligible for VA Disability Benefits.

Call us today to discuss your Agent Orange related claim with a VA Disability attorney.