There are five branches of the Military. Each branch is unique and has its own set of challenges for the men and women who choose to enlist. Overall, the branch or branches of the Military in which you served won’t dramatically impact your VA Disability claim. For instance, the VA does not give Veterans of the United States Marine Corps preferential treatment over individuals who served in the Air Force. However, there are some small areas of VA Disability in which your duties or service location with the branch you served could impact your claim. This is the first of a series of blogs in which we’ll highlight some of the ways your specific duties or location within your branch of service may impact your claim. This first post in the series pertains to the United States Navy.
Regardless of the branch of the Military you enter, the basics will be the same. You will likely enter basic training first, and then have some sort of advanced training. After that’s finished, the real differences begin. The Navy’s current slogan is “forged by the sea.” This is an obvious nod to the fact that the Navy is mostly known for their aquatic service. However, as we learned from the hit coming of age film “Top Gun”, individuals in the Navy can also be amazing pilots. While the Navy is far more than a bunch of service members on boats, it’s hard to ignore the association with ships.
Apart from the United States Marine Corps and the United States Coast Guard, most Veterans aren’t spending a lot of time on a ship. However, the environment of living on a ship can have some serious impacts on your body. Keep in mind that some ships are essentially floating cities. Many Navy Veterans were on ships for several months at a time. The ships are often noisy, so many Navy Veterans have issues with hearing loss and tinnitus. That’s not to say that Veterans in other branches don’t have issues with hearing loss and tinnitus, but the constant drone of the ship’s engines can cause long-term damage.
Certain Navy occupations, such as hull maintenance technicians, utilities men and boatswain’s mates, increase the risk of exposure to hazardous materials. Also, Navy Veterans who served on certain ships or worked in shipyards may have been exposed to asbestos. Because of this exposure, these Veterans may have a claim for asbestosis or mesothelioma.
We can’t discuss the United States Navy without discussing the Vietnam War and Agent Orange exposure. According to the VA, the U.S. Military used Agent Orange to clear plants and trees during the Vietnam War. If you served in or near Vietnam during the Vietnam Era, or in certain related jobs, you may have had contact with this toxic chemical. Vietnam-era Navy Veterans who served on ships and vessels including landing craft, swift boats, patrol boats and destroyers that conducted operations on inland waterways and brown water rivers and delta areas in Vietnam may be presumed to have exposure to Agent Orange and herbicides. The VA has released a list of presumptive conditions which apply to the Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. This list is updated from time to time. In addition, the VA has a list of ships and dates for Veterans who were not “boots on ground”. You can see that list here.
If you’re a Veteran of the United States Navy and would like to know more about whether or not you qualify for VA Disability benefits, give us a call today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so we can contact you at a better time.
[MM1]Should this be “boots on the ground”?
[MM2]ADD A LINK HERE