Fri Jul 19th, 2019
A few weeks ago, we alerted you about enactment of the IMPORTANT UPDATE for Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans, which makes veterans who served in the waters offshore of Vietnam eligible to receive VA health care and benefits for conditions presumed associated with Agent Orange exposure.
Unfortunately, a week later, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued a blanket stay on all Blue Water Navy claims until January 1, 2020, which would delay granting these claims for at least six months. After reviewing the law, the Procopio Court decision and the VA stay, and having discussions with VA officials and leaders in Congress, we want you to be aware of actions you should take and actions DAV is taking to ensure that Blue Water Navy veterans get access to VA health care and benefits as soon as possible.
First, although the new law does not take full effect until January 1st next year – and even though VA has issued a stay on all claims – it is imperative that Blue Water Navy veterans begin filing claims right now. If you think that you or anyone you know may be eligible for these benefits, including survivors of Blue Water Navy veterans, you should contact a DAV Service Officer and file a claim as soon as possible so that you can receive the maximum benefits to which you are entitled, at the earliest date.
Second, DAV strongly disagrees with VA’s decision to stay all pending Blue Water claims. We believe that the Procopio decision gives VA the authority right now to begin granting claims for those veterans who served up to 12 miles from shore, while those who served beyond 12 miles – up to the limits established by the new law – may have to wait until January 1, 2020. That is why we are working with our VSO colleagues and supporters in Congress to get VA to lift the blanket stay and begin processing claims right now.
For decades, Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans have been denied benefits and access to health care by VA. They have waited long enough! VA and Congress must find a way to move forward and begin granting Blue Water Navy veterans claims before it’s too late.
Rest assured that we will not relent in our efforts to get VA to lift the stay and begin processing and granting Agent Orange claims for Blue Water Navy veterans and survivors now. As the situation evolves, we will keep you apprised of our ongoing efforts and any additional actions you need to take.