Saturday, September 26, 2015

Agent Orange Act Extension Stalls

Agent Orange Act Extension Stalls
The 1991 Agent Orange Act expires on September 30, 2015; new legislation would extend its sunset to September 30, 2017, but it is stalled on the House floor. If the AOA expires, thousands of veterans who were exposed to the chemical will be denied their right to compensation. Please use the FRA Action Center ( or call the Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. Ralph Abraham (La.) at his Capitol Hill office (202-225-8490) to explain that the AOA expires September 30, 2015 and ask that the bill be approved immediately.

Blue Water Veterans – Should I file a VA Claim

Blue Water Veterans – Should I file a VA Claim?

When you had that heart attack unexpectedly a few years ago, you were shocked to discover that you had ischemic heart disease. Heart disease did not run in your family, so where did it come from?
While in the waiting room at the VA medical center for your monthly checkup, you start talking to another patient who, as it turns out, served in the Navy during the Vietnam era – same as you. He tells you that he has a claim pending at the VA for Diabetes Mellitus, but they keeping turning him down. Why? You ask. He gives a rather confusing explanation about being a Blue Water vet, and how the VA will not grant service-connection for Blue Water veterans. “It’s a tough fight”, the fellow patient mutters darkly. “I keep wanting to quit, but my wife won’t let me.”
Back at home, you do some research online about ischemic heart disease. You discover that Agent Orange has been known to cause ischemic heart disease—so that’s where it came from! In fact, it’s on the VA’s list of conditions that are presumed to be caused by exposure to herbicides. But, like the Navy vet at the VA clinic said, the VA will only grant this kind of service connection to Navy veterans if you were “boots on the ground” in Vietnam. And you never went ashore while you were deployed to Vietnam. The question that you ask yourself is:  is it worth it to file a claim?
The answer is: absolutely yes!
For a Blue Water veteran, hope of obtaining service connection is not futile. Thanks to a recent case (Gray v. McDonald) that was won at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, the VA is now under a lot of pressure to revisit the Agent Orange Act of 1991 in an effort to include Blue Water Navy veterans in the group eligible for VA benefits.
The Agent Orange Act established that certain conditions would be considered as being caused by exposure to herbicide agents, including Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, soft-tissue sarcoma, and chloracne. The Act defined the affected group of veterans as any “veteran who, during active military, naval, or air service, served in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam Era.” The Agent Orange Act also required the Secretary of the VA to contract with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review and evaluate the available scientific evidence regarding associations between diseases and exposure to dioxin and other chemical compounds in herbicides. In other words, the IOM would determine if there were any other conditions that were likely caused by exposure to herbicides. If the IOM and the Secretary jointly agreed that these other conditions would be related to exposure to herbicides, these conditions would be added to the presumption list.
Later, the VA informally redefined the eligibility requirements for Navy veterans when the VA’s internal adjudication manual (M21-1) advised that “service in Vietnam will be conceded if the records show that the veteran received the Vietnam Service Medal.” Because the Vietnam Service Medal was typically awarded to veterans who served aboard a ship in the waters offshore Vietnam, regardless of whether they set foot on Vietnamese soil, this Manual M21-1 provision appeared to eliminate any need for these veterans to prove that they set foot on land in Vietnam. Of course, the VA being what it is, this practice was not exercised consistently. In some cases, the VA would grant the case; in other cases, the VA would deny the case based on the fact that the veteran never set foot on land in Vietnam and was therefore not entitled to the presumption. To make matters worse, the subsequent Haas v. Peake case ruled that veterans must have been present within the land borders of the Republic of Vietnam in order to qualify for the Agent Orange presumption. This meant that veterans who served on ships that operated in the inland waterways of Vietnam were eligible, but the veterans who served on ships in the wider bays or on deep-sea vessels were not.
The Gray case finally challenged the VA’s capricious and arbitrary determination on what was considered an “inland waterway”. In the months to follow, the Secretary must revisit the regulations to determine a more reasonable and consistent way of “drawing the line” for Blue Water veterans.
What does this mean for Blue Water veterans now?
With the ever-growing pressure on the VA, we are hopeful that the Secretary’s revisitation of the regulations, coupled with the new bill that is being pushed in Congress, the H.R. 969, will result in a favorable outcome for Blue Water veterans. Therefore, it is important for veterans to continue to fight for the benefits that they so richly deserve.
So for the Blue Water veteran who wants to know if he/she should file a claim: file that claim! Change is in the wind, whether the VA is ready for it or not!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Watch this Video

A must watch:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Update on The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act September 13, 2015

Here is an update on the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act.

This week we have had 5 more Representatives signed onto the Bill making the total 269.  We need to get that number up to over 289 so that certain rules will be suspended.
We also had 1 more Senator signed up making the total for the Senate to be 21.

John Wells is making another trip to Washington DC this coming week. On Blue Water Navy Awareness we have posted a list of some of the Members of Congress Offices he will be visiting along with the Contact Information for that office. We are trying to get as many people as we can to write these Congress Members and asked them to support the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. Please visit us for the list and please join us in writing these Members of Congress.

Also we do have Contact Information for all Members of Congress. This is so we all can all keep contacting Member of Congress to let them know we are not going away. We are here to stay.

There was a Webinar this week put on by two of the best that are fighting for us to get the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act passed.  Besides giving out the back ground information they suggested ways for us to help. Keep Contacting Congress was one of the ways along with getting the word out to the News Media. We need to let everyone know what Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans are going through. How the VA is putting us off and ignoring us.  One other idea was to keep contacting the VA, if you know the e-mail address of Robert MacDonald and Sloan Gibbson please send them my way. I have tried and and I did not get a Bounce back so they may be valid. Yes I know they won’t actually get the e-mails BUT if they keep getting them I am sure that the person who is reading them will let them know we are out here.

Not only do we need to make the request for the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, we need to ask them to support the Extension of Agent Orange Act (HR 3423). This will extent by two years the original sunset deadline of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 to ensure that Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange receive just compensation and care.
The Act expires on September 30, 2015 and the legislation would extend the sunset to September 30, 2017. FRA warned the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees regarding the sunset of the Act during its March 18, 2015 testimony.
The Agent Orange Act of 1991 (AOA) established a presumption of service connection for diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure, relieving Vietnam veterans from the burden of providing evidence that their illness was a result of military service. This law directs the the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to periodically research and review diseases that might be associated with Agent Orange exposure. The VA is required to add diseases the NAS finds to have a positive association to Agent Orange exposure to the VA’s list of presumptive service connected diseases. Since the enactment of the AOA, the NAS has issued reports that have led to the presumption of service connection for diseases such as Parkinson’s, B-cell leukemia and early onset peripheral neuropathy. Without these studies, thousands of Vietnam era veterans would have gone without the benefits they greatly deserve.
If the AOA expires the VA would no longer be obligated to review the NAS report or add any new diseases to the presumption of service list, in the process denying thousands of veterans their right to compensation.
Members are urged to use the Action Center to ask their Representative to support this important legislation.

For up to date information you can always check with Blue Water Navy Awareness on Facebook.  

Sunday, September 6, 2015


I haven’t posted about the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act in about a month due to the fact that nothing has happen since Congress is in recess.
There is going to be a Webinar this coming week you may find interesting. Here is the information on it:
Agent Orange and Blue Water Sailors: VA has yet to publish its official definition of inland waterway. However, the BVA’s decision indicates that VA still refuses to accept Vietnam harbors as inland waterways, ignoring a Veterans Court order to the contrary. 

In this webinar, Matthew Hill and Commander John Wells, Esq., the Executive Director, Military-Veterans Advocacy, Inc., will cover what has and hasn’t changed in the Brown Water/Blue Water Debate. 

Questions/points we will address: 

1. Why you still need to pay attention even if your ship was in a harbor or bay. 
2. What to take away from the Gray decision. 
3. What evidence to use for your case. 
4. Actions to be taken politically.
You can go to the following URL to sign up for it. Sign up even if you can’t attend it but want to see it later, they said they will e-mail you where you can see it:


Also there have been some new ships added to the Official Agent Orange Ships List. Go to to see if your ship has been added.
As always please contact your member of Congress and ask them to support the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, S-681 (Senate) and H-969 (House.) Also you ask them to support the Agent Orange Extension Act (HR-3423). This act will allow the VA to still add more disease to the Agent Orange list. I believe it allows other things also.

For more information up to date information you can always go to Blue Water Navy Awareness on Facebook.

Thanks and Enjoy