Ranking Member Roe Applauds VA for Beginning to Process Blue Water Navy Veterans Claims
Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), the Ranking Member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, issued the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began processing disability compensation claims for Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans last week:
"One of my proudest accomplishments in Congress was the enactment of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act to provide veterans who served honorably in the off-shore waters of Vietnam with the long-overdue benefits that they are entitled to from the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Roe. “I commend Secretary Wilkie, Under Secretary Lawrence, and the entire Veterans Benefits Administration team for their work in preparation to start processing these claims, and I look forward to continuing to work with them and with all other stakeholders to make sure that these veterans receive the benefits that they deserve. I encourage all Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans who think they might be eligible for benefits under this law to reach out to VA and request additional information.”
Agent Orange was an herbicide used during the Vietnam-era that has been known to be associated with certain health issues in people who have been exposed to it. The Agent Orange Act of 1991 stipulated that if a veteran served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 and has a disease that has been associated with exposure to Agent Orange, they are automatically presumed to have been exposed and, therefore, qualify for VA disability compensation. The Blue Water Navy Veterans Act of 2019 extended the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange to veterans who served off the shores of Vietnam. President Trump signed this bill into law on June 25, 2019 and subsequently, the Secretary announced that a stay would be implemented on processing certain compensation claims to prepare for full implementation of the law. The stay was lifted on January 1, 2020. To learn more about the Blue Water Navy Veterans Act of 2019, click here.