‘Blue water’ veterans bill heads for final signature

This week the Senate unanimously passed legislation that grants disability benefits to “blue water” Vietnam veterans. The bill has now been sent to the White House to officially become law.

According to an article published by MilitaryTimes.com, “The legislation, passed unanimously by the House last month, has been a focus of advocates fighting to ensure nearly 90,000 veterans who served on ships in the seas around Vietnam are granted the same Veterans Affairs benefits status as troops who served on the ground or on ships stationed close to shore. Under current regulations, those troops were assumed to have been exposed to toxic defoliants like Agent Orange, and were given special fast-track status when illnesses related to that chemical contamination surfaced later in life.”

However, VA officials ruled in 2002 that the same presumptive status did not apply to the “blue water” veterans. As a result, veterans were asked to prove their ailments were a result of exposure to toxic chemicals but found this difficult due to a lack of chemical monitoring on the ships and the decades that have passed since the exposure. Last week, it was announced by officials from the Department of Justice that they would not appeal the decision, effectively ending the fight.

The bill, which is now on its way to the White House,  will also expand certain presumptive benefits to those who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone as well as children of exposed Thailand veterans born with spina bifida.

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. was quoted as saying “It is our responsibility to make sure our veterans are provided the benefits they have earned…I look forward to President Trump signing this legislation into law, and I will work with the VA to ensure Blue Water Navy veterans begin receiving these benefits.”

To learn about this important news affecting “blue water” Vietnam veterans, click HERE.

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability