‘Blue Water’ Veterans Benefits Act officially becomes law

Last week, the President signed the legislation and passed the law.  The “Blue water” Vietnam Veterans Benefits Act will now grant presumptive status for disability benefits to an estimated 90,000 Navy veterans who served in the seas around Vietnam during the war.

According to an article published by Military Times, “[Veterans] faced additional paperwork barriers to prove exposure to toxic defoliants during their deployments, even after developing identical serious cancers and respiratory illnesses. Advocates had long complained that put an unfair burden on the aging veterans, since water monitoring records from decades ago were inaccessible or non-existent. The higher proof of exposure blocked most so-called “blue water” veterans from eligibility for benefits, which can total several thousand dollars a month.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie stated that the department has already begun processing the claims, saying “We are working with the Department of Defense and the Department of Navy to make sure that we have those adequate lists (of eligible veterans)…I cannot tell you now the numbers. I can tell you we are working on them. I will promise to come back to (Congress) if we need additional resources.”

The new law will pay for an estimated total of $1.1 billion in presumptive benefits over 10 years. In addition, the new law will extend benefits to troops who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, as well as to children of herbicide-exposed Thailand veterans that were born with spina bifida.

Countless advocacy groups have praised Congress for the action, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.

For more in this important news, click HERE.

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability