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By Ken Cruickshank
Veterans Corner 

The Blue Water Act

 

Last updated 9/2/2019 at 6:30pm | View PDF



Recently, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R.299) was signed into law. Last year, the House unanimously passed the bill only to have it stall in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. ruled in favor of Agent Orange/Blue Water Navy veterans in the Procopio v. Wilkie court decision in January. The Department of Justice declined to appeal the decision, so the House and Senate passed the supported legislation unanimously.

This court case argued on behalf of Blue Water Veterans, saying that a Navy veteran, Mr. Procopio, who never set foot on land in Vietnam, was exposed to Agent Orange during his military service off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam. Due to this exposure, he developed medical conditions consistent with other veterans who served on land and were exposed to Agent Orange and therefore he was entitled to a presumptive category and eligible for benefits. This legislation essentially codifies the Procopio decision into law.

The law will go into effect January 1, 2020, at which time the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will process the claims, however, the VA is encouraging veterans to begin to apply, or in some cases reapply, for the benefits now.

If you have filed and been denied for a disability linked to Agent Orange exposure, should you wish to attempt to file your claim again with the Department of Veterans Affairs, our office can assist you in completing the application and submit it on your behalf.

The recognized presumptive Agent Orange disabilities are listed below:

• Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

• Hodgkin's Disease

• Multiple Myeloma

• Respiratory Cancers (including cancers of the lung, trachea and bronchus)

• Prostate Cancer

• Type 2 Diabetes

• Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

• AL Amyloidosis

• Parkinson's Disease

• B Cell Leukemia

• Ischemic Heart Disease

If you are a surviving spouse of a Vietnam veteran who had any of the above conditions, even if they did not file, you may be eligible to apply for benefits as well.

Should you want assistance, please contact the office at (559) 713-2880 to schedule an appointment.

Ken Cruickshank, the Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County, is a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. Contact him at the Veterans Services Office at 3348 W. Mineral King Ave., Visalia; by phone at (559) 713-2880; or by email at KCruicks@tularehhsa.org.

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