VA approves claims for more than 22,500 Blue Water Navy veterans
Nine months after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began processing Agent Orange disability claims for Blue Water Navy veterans, more than 22,500 have been finalized, resulting in more than $640 million in payments to veterans or their surviving dependents.
Blue Water Navy veterans waited nearly 50 years to receive disability compensation for diseases related to Agent Orange exposure until Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 was signed into law. This act extends disability benefits covering medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure to those who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam — impacting an estimated 90,000 veterans.
VA’s collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has resulted in the digitization of more than 29 million images from U.S. Navy and Coast Guard deck logs. Data — such as ship names, dates and coordinates — is then fed to an internal, claims-related processing system that identifies vessels that may have traveled within the offshore waters of Vietnam. This new approach has resulted in a faster, more accurate decision the first time a claim is reviewed.
Eligible Blue Water Navy (BWN) Veterans can apply for disability compensation and other benefits if they served in this designated area between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 and developed one of 14 illnesses related to contact with herbicides such as Agent Orange. In addition, Veterans who served in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone between Sept. 1, 1967 and Aug. 31, 1971, may also qualify for benefits for themselves and their family members.
Veterans who want to file an initial claim for an herbicide-related disability can use VA Form 21-526EZ, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits.
If you’re a veteran or you care for someone who served in Vietnam, it’s worth your time to check out these new benefits. If you need help, just give Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law a call at 615.824.2571. We have three VA accredited attorneys on staff who can help you with every aspect of your VA claim.