Most Navy veterans will know the difference between the “brown water Navy” and the “blue water Navy.” Brown water refers to any boat or seamen that operate primarily in rivers or inland seas, while blue water refers to more traditional ocean operations.
The brown water Navy first got its nickname during the American Civil War. The term was used to describe the war ships that sailed up and down the Mississippi River. There is no official separation in the Navy that distinguishes the two. They both are under the same command and subject to the same rules. So wouldn’t it make since for veterans to receive the same VA benefits regardless if they served in the “blue” or “brown” Navy? Unfortunately, when it comes to toxic exposure claims this is not the case.
Currently, the VA recognizes those who served on smaller riverboats (brown water Navy) to be eligible for benefits regarding toxic exposure, “but does not acknowledge exposure among many veterans who served on the larger vessels at sea.” Military Times. Typically, these toxic exposure cases come from Vietnam vets who came in contact with the notorious Agent Orange compound.
To fix this problem, several Congressmen have sponsored the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. This bill will expand eligibility for toxic exposure benefits among Vietnam vets by qualifying vets who served on larger ships. Currently, the VA argues that sailors on larger ships had no direct contact and therefore their illnesses are not service-related. However, a study done in 2011 by the Australian Veterans Affairs Department claims there is sustainable evidence indicating blue water sailors had ample direct contact. The bill is also pushing for benefits for children of veterans who were born with birth defects caused by their parent’s exposure.
It is unclear when the bill will see the floor of Congress and how much support it will receive.
If you are a disabled veteran of any kind, blue water, brown water or no water, Jan Dils Attorneys at Law will fight for your right of compensation. These skilled West Virginia VA benefits attorneys have spent a great deal of time training to be experts in VA benefits rules and regulations.