Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, released the following statement after a Federal Appeals Court ruled on Procopio v. Wilkie.
"The court's ruling on Procopio v. Wilkie is clear, VA should accept service in the territorial seas as qualifying for service in the Republic of Vietnam in regards to the Agent Orange presumption.This is a big win for our Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans, and I am thrilled that it seems that these sailors will finally receive the recognition that they have earned the right to be considered eligible for the Agent Orange presumption – if VA takes this decision to heart.
"While I am encouraged by this ruling, our fight for our Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans is not necessarily over. It is not clear how VA will interpret the definition of 'territorial seas' That is the big question right now, and I have reached out to VA to find out the answer. Another big thing to note about this ruling is that if VA wanted to appeal it, the only option is to take it to the Supreme Court.
"I have been reviewing the case with my counsel and am encouraged by what this could mean for our Vietnam Vets. Of course, there are still questions to be asked and things to be learned about potential implications this decision could have. When these servicemembers left for war and risked their lives for this country, many of whom are now suffering disabilities as a result of their service, they were promised when they returned they would receive benefits and support from VA. Instead, they have been sitting around waiting for what was promised to them, and it is simply wrong they have had to wait so long. This issue is near and dear to my heart, and the one thing I know for a fact is that I will not rest until these deserving veterans are treated fairly."
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