Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 and VA Claims

If You Are A Blue Water Navy Veteran, You May Be Eligible For VA Disability Benefits 

In 2019, the VA changed its grounds for presumed exposure to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange. Agent Orange was used to kill enemy crops throughout the Vietnam War, and the herbicide has been linked to numerous health conditions. Some of the most extreme health problems associated with exposure to Agent Orange are Parkinson’s disease and several forms of cancer.

Because Agent Orange use was so prevalent during the Vietnam War, the VA presumes that Veterans who fought in Vietnam have been exposed to the herbicide. For disabled Vietnam Veterans, presumed exposure to Agent Orange means it is easier to get service-connected for a condition like Parkinson’s disease or other diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure.

The ease with which Vietnam Veterans can receive disability benefits for Agent Orange exposure did not extend to “Blue Water Navy” Vietnam Veterans for decades. “Blue Water Navy” refers to any Veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam at any point between January 9th, 1962 and May 7, 1975. However, when the VA passed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, it meant Blue Water Navy Veterans could also qualify for presumed exposure to Agent Orange.

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act Of 2019 can significantly impact your life if you are a disabled Vietnam Veteran. Whereas before, Vietnam Veterans who served offshore could not qualify for presumed service connection for disabilities, the act makes getting service-connected and receiving VA disability benefits much easier. This means that Veterans suffering from service-connected disabilities who were previously unable to get the compensation they need and deserve now can qualify for benefits.

If you are a Blue Water Navy Veteran suffering from a disability, you can apply to receive monthly benefits from the VA. In this post, we will walk you through the process of filing a claim for a service-connected disability and outline the service-related conditions that Agent Orange Exposure often causes.

Conditions Associated With Agent Orange Exposure 

Below are a few of the most common physical and psychological disabilities associated with Agent Orange Exposure. Any of these conditions can qualify you to receive disability benefits from the VA.

Agent Orange And Parkinson’s Disease

One of the conditions commonly linked to Agent Orange exposure is Parkinson’s disease — characterized by tremors and difficulty controlling body movements. Lack of physical control caused by Parkinson’s disease can significantly compromise your motor skills, making it difficult to maintain a job. For many Veterans with Parkinson’s, employment is completely out of the question. This means that qualifying for VA disability benefits can be life-changing.

If you are a Blue Water Navy Veteran who has Parkinson’s disease, the VA will presume that your condition is linked to Agent Orange Exposure. A presumed service connection means it will be easier for you to qualify for disability benefits and start getting the financial support that you need and deserve.

In some cases, Veterans with severe Parkinson’s disease can qualify for Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability (TDIU) from the VA. This status is given to Veterans with physical or psychological conditions so severe that they make it utterly impossible for them to work. If your Parkinson’s disease has progressed to the point that you have lost your motor skills, you may be able to qualify for TDIU. TDIU can often qualify a Veteran to receive a 100% disability rating. This rating will qualify a Disabled Veteran with Parkinson’s for the highest possible level of monthly compensation from the VA.

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can get worse over time. As a degenerative disease, Parkinson’s tends to develop and progress through years and decades, starting out with milder symptoms and eventually giving way to much more severe and debilitating ones. Degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s can often qualify disabled Veterans for higher disability ratings as time goes by. If you notice that your symptoms are worsening, make sure to notify the VA and request to have your condition re-evaluated. 

Agent Orange And Dementia & Alzehimers 

Exposure to Agent Orange has also been linked to multiple neurological problems, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. Like Parkinson’s disease, these conditions can worsen over time, often making it completely impossible for a Veteran suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s to work. For many Veterans who suffer from degenerative neurological diseases, financial security can be hard to achieve. Without the ability to work, many Veterans with neurological problems are entirely dependent on VA benefits to support themselves and any dependents they have. 

The VA’s changes to the criteria for presumptive Agent Orange exposure make it much easier for Veterans suffering from degenerative neurological diseases to get the support they need and deserve. For Blue Water Navy Veterans with neurological problems, the VA’s disability benefits can be absolutely life-changing, making it possible to attain financial stability even when working a job is out of the question.

Agent Orange And Other Diseases

Agent Orange exposure has been linked to multiple forms of cancer. As a degenerative disease, cancer can often qualify a Veteran for higher disability benefits over time. This increase in benefits is linked to the increasing severity of cancer’s impact on a Veteran’s health and well-being.

How Do I File For VA Disability Benefits For Agent Orange Exposure? 

If you are a Blue Water Navy Veteran and have a disability, you may be eligible for the VA’s presumed service connection and benefits. The VA only grants disability benefits to Veterans who can medically prove that their disabilities are service-connected unless a presumed service connection is present. In the case of Blue Water Navy Veterans, exposure to Agent Orange can be presumed as a service-related factor that can lead to multiple types of disabilities, including the ones listed in the paragraphs above.

If you have a disability that you suspect is linked to Agent Orange exposure, make sure to file a disability claim with the VA. As a Vietnam Veteran, you can qualify for presumed service connection if your condition can be linked to Agent Orange. You can file a claim in person at your local VA office or mail it in after filling it out online. 

The VA Claims Process 

When you file a disability claim with the VA, you will be asked to provide the VA with important documentation that can contribute to your claim’s outcome. The VA will need your military medical records, personnel records, and any test results, X-rays, or other relevant documentation from your doctor. These documents can be submitted alongside your claim.

Once you have provided the VA with the information they need, you will be asked to visit your local VA office for a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam. Once you complete the C&P exam, the VA will be able to determine whether your disability qualifies you for service connection and monthly benefits.

After your claim is filed and you have met the VA’s requirements, you will likely still need to wait several months before you receive a decision. If the VA approves your claim, they will inform you of the disability rating – between 10% and 100% – that you have received and the benefits that you qualify for.

Sources:

https://www.aspeninstitute.org/programs/agent-orange-in-vietnam-program/what-is-agent-orange/

https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/62832/va-extends-agent-orange-presumption-blue-water-navy-veterans/

https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/porphyria-cutanea-tarda.asp

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