For Veterans who served during the Vietnam era, Agent Orange exposure is a harsh reality most have to deal with every day. Traditionally, Veterans had to have served in or be “Boots on Ground,” in Vietnam, Thailand, and Korea in order to Service Connect for disabilities that are presumptive conditions of Agent Orange exposure. There are, as with most things in life, exceptions to the rule. Certain areas in the US, Puerto Rico, and a few other areas also qualify. Further, certain Navy and Coast Guard Ships also qualify for exposure to Agent Orange.
The VA will update these lists from time to time in order to more accurately serve the Veterans who were in Vietnam, and that brings us to the topic of today’s blog. The VA has updated the list of Navy and Coast Guard Ships that had activities in Vietnam. The latest additions bring the total to 285 ships. The addition of over 40 new ships means that a lot of Veterans may qualify for exposure to Agent Orange who wasn’t eligible previously. This is huge news for any Veteran who was denied in the past.
A few quick notes. Serving on these ships does not necessarily qualify you for benefits. Each ship has unique orders and thus you must be present on the ship when it was near Vietnam. Some ships were only present for one day. If you weren’t on the vessel at that time, then you are not likely entitled to benefits for Agent Orange Exposure.
One question we are asked a lot by Veterans is: Do I have to serve in combat to get these benefits? The answer is a simple no. For instance, one of the ships I came across while doing my research was the USS Eldorado (Eldorado (AGC-11) (Amphibious Force Flagship) The only activities it had in Vietnam were that in July 1970 crewmembers were sent ashore for a beach party at Cam Ranh Bay. Obviously that is not a combat situation, but those Veterans would likely be entitled to benefits if they have disabilities that are a result of Agent Orange Exposure. Many other ships never actually docked, but instead patrolled the inland waterways of Vietnam. Those Veterans would also qualify.
To see if your ship is on the list, and to see the activity of your ship, please consult the complete list available via the VA website. If you believe that you qualify for benefits, and would like help with your VA Disability claim, feel free to give us a call today. Our consultation is completely free. Fill out this form, and we will be happy to give you a call.