There is a lot of talk right now about a bill that passed the House involving Blue Water Veterans who served during Vietnam. Essentially, this bill will expand Agent Orange Presumptive Benefits to Veterans who served on ships near the coast of Vietnam. This is great news for these Veterans, but do you even know if you are a Blue Water Veteran?
In the complex world of VA Disability, there are essentially two types of Veterans who served on ships during Vietnam; Brown Water and Blue Water. Brown Water Veterans are currently able to receive disability benefits under the Agent Orange Presumptive List. Blue Water Veterans aren’t able to receive these presumptive benefits. Many people aren’t aware of the difference between Brown Water Veterans and Blue Water Veterans.
It may seem complicated, but really the difference really just comes down to where a Veteran served. If a Veteran served off the coast of Vietnam in the open sea, he or she is considered a Blue Water Veteran. If a Veteran served on a ship or boat that was in the inland waterways of Vietnam, they are considered a Brown Water Veteran. Agent Orange presumptive conditions currently apply to Brown Water Veterans only. The VA website states that a Blue Water Veteran must have stepped foot on ground in Vietnam in order to receive a disability benefit for Agent Orange.
Let’s stop for just a second to discuss how ridiculous this sounds. In the eyes of the VA, a Veteran onboard a ship off the coast of Vietnam could not be exposed to Agent Orange because they were not in country. This means that somehow Agent Orange knew where the border of the country was and it couldn’t float off into the sea. I for one will not buy that because I have something called common sense. If I go out this evening and spray Round Up in my flower bed, it will be released into the air and float off into my driveway and other surrounding areas. It won’t just stop at the end of the flower bed. It’s an herbicide, so it will float a little bit. Round Up is like a much weaker version of Agent Orange. Instead of being released from a handheld spray bottle, Agent Orange was dropped from large planes. To think that Veterans onboard ships off the coast weren’t impacted by this is somewhat asinine.
Granted, some people might argue that they knew a Veteran who was Blue Water only and is getting connected for Agent Orange conditions. Yes, this is possible if the Veteran stepped foot in country. This is where things get interesting. All ships have logs that document the daily activities of the crew. Anytime personnel leave a ship for any reason, it’s documented. Many Veterans on these Blue Water ships did travel to Vietnam for short trips during the war. This could be for trips to get supplies, official mission meetings, or the one that stands out to me, picnics. While it may seem odd, there are several instances in different ship logs of large numbers of Sailors heading into the mainland for picnics. Like I said, they document everything on these ships. This is good though, because we’ve been able to get some Veterans who were Blue Water only connected off of these logs.
The good news is that the House has already approved a bill allowing Blue Water Veterans to receive Agent Orange Presumptive Benefits. It still must pass the senate before it becomes a law, but things are definitely headed in the right direction. Here is the staggering number though. According to the Military Times, as many as 90,000 sailors may now be able to receive Agent Orange Presumptive Benefits. That is the best news of all.
If you would like to know more about Agent Orange Presumptive Benefits, or if you’d like to know about VA Disability in general, call us today for a Free Consultation. Our Toll Free Number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather be contacted at your convenience, fill out this form to schedule a time.