Benefits for ‘blue water’ Vietnam veterans in motion

Lawmakers have once again passed a bill that would ease disability benefit rules for veterans who served on ships off the coasts of Vietnam and suffered serious illnesses.

According to an article published by MilitaryTimes.com, “The legislation — the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act — passed 410-0 with strong messages of support from both Democratic and Republican leadership. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif., said the move is needed to correct what he called years of mistakes in denying those veterans disability benefits for their injuries. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that VA officials have improperly interpreted the law in denying those claims, essentially awarding the benefits to the entire class of veterans.”

The bill has a lot of support from of a variety of different veterans groups and advocates, including Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. However, other veteran advocacy groups are opposing the measure, saying the geographical parameters laid out in the bill are more restrictive than what the court order earlier this year included.

In addition, “lawmakers have also argued that Congress needs to act to find a way to pay for the additional costs of extending disability benefits to the “blue water” veterans. Congressional Budget Office officials had estimated the new awards could total about $1.1 billion over 10 years, but VA officials said the figure could rise to more than $5 billion.”

To learn more about the ‘Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act’, click here.