Recently, a U.S. District Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Blue Water veteran who appealed his denial of benefits after he claimed exposure to Agent Orange (a disease caused by exposure to herbicides) while on a ship off the coast of Vietnam.
However, only Veterans who had boots on the ground in Vietnam have a presumption of Agent Orange exposure if they come down with certain illnesses. According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, “Blue Water Veterans who did not set foot in Vietnam or serve aboard ships that operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 must show on a factual basis that they were exposed to herbicides during military service in order to receive disability compensation for diseases related to Agent Orange exposure.” Blue Water veterans served on ships off the coast, and they have a tough time proving exposure.
Consider where Agent Orange went: To the ground to defoliate, into the waterways, into the bays … and onto anything pulled out of the water such as anchors, the water spray itself, wash down of planes on carrier decks, and more.
In 2011, the Institute of Medicine’s study of Agent Orange illness among Blue Water veterans determined that there were a number of possible routes of exposure. Its 2012 update said that there is no reason to exclude waterbased veterans from benefits.
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma IS, however, on the approved Agent Orange Blue Water list. Color me confused. If one disease can be traced back to offshore exposure and be listed as a presumptive disease, why not the others? See www.publichealth.va.gov for lists of ships in Vietnam. Go to bluewaternavy.org for reports on the water in Da Nang harbor, Agent Orange on the carriers and more.
See the Update Logs. If you do an online search for the appeal, look for United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims ruling on GRAY v McDONALD (No. 13.3339). Don’t miss the dissection of the terms brown water, blue water and the various types of water.
(c) 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.
By Freddy Groves