‘Blue Water Navy’ bill is headed for a vote

Last week, lawmakers moved to expedite extending disability benefits to “blue water” Vietnam veterans and servicemembers who served in the Korean demilitarized zone in the late 1960s.

According to an article published by Military.com, “a bill proposed by the House Veterans Affairs Committee would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide disability compensation for veterans who served on Navy ships off Vietnam and have been diagnosed with one of 14 diseases presumed related to Agent Orange exposure. The bill, H.R. 299, now goes to the House for a vote. Members of the Senate, meanwhile, are considering similar legislation proposed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York.”

This new legislation would identify the affected geographic regions off the coast and would also extend benefits to children of veterans who have spina bifida as a result of a parent who was exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Thailand.

In a January federal court ruling, the VA was accused of wrongly denying disability benefits to Blue Water Navy veterans. VA officials had denied the claims of affected servicemembers claiming that the scientific evidence did not support the connection between their service and exposure to Agent Orange. In addition, they claimed that the cost of extending the benefits to affected veterans would cost as much as $5 billion over 10 years.

According to an article published by Military.com, “Last year, the House unanimously approved a Blue Water Navy veterans bill, but the legislation died in the Senate when a vote was blocked in the final days of the last Congress.”

Last week, lawmakers said that the new ‘blue water’ Navy legislation is needed to protect veterans who may be eligible for disability benefits.

To learn more about the state of benefits for ‘Blue Water Navy’ veterans, click here.