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VA Blue Water Benefit Program

The VA Blue Water Benefits Program extends benefits to Veterans who served on ships in the offshore waters of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. This program acknowledges the exposure to herbicides, such as Agent Orange, that these Veterans experienced, even if they did not set foot on Vietnamese soil. The Blue Water Navy Veterans Act of 2019 made it possible for these Veterans to receive presumptive service connection for certain diseases, streamlining the process for obtaining VA disability compensation. This presumption simplifies the burden of proof, allowing

 

Veterans to receive benefits more easily if they develop specific conditions associated with herbicide exposure.

Veterans eligible under the Blue Water Benefit Program can apply for disability compensation for a range of presumptive conditions, including various cancers, diabetes mellitus type 2, and Parkinson's disease. Secondary conditions arising from these primary diseases may also be covered, providing comprehensive support for affected Veterans. To apply, Veterans need to submit VA Form 21-526EZ along with their service and medical records. The VA provides various resources and support services to assist Veterans in navigating the application process, ensuring they receive the benefits they deserve for their service and sacrifices.

List of Ships in the Blue Water Navy Area

The VA has recognized several ships that operated within the 12 nautical miles of Vietnam, qualifying the Veterans who served on these ships for the Blue Water Navy benefits. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of these ships:

Aircraft Carriers:USS Constellation (CVA-64)USS Enterprise (CVAN-65)USS Hancock (CVA-19)USS Midway (CVA-41)USS Oriskany (CVA-34)

 

Destroyers:USS Berkeley (DDG-15)USS Blue (DD-744)USS Buchanan (DDG-14)USS Coontz (DDG-40)USS Edwards (DD-950)

 

Cruisers:USS Belknap (DLG-26)USS Boston (CA-69)USS Canberra (CA-70)USS Chicago (CG-11)USS Long Beach (CGN-9)

  • Amphibious Assault Ships:

    • USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2)

    • USS Okinawa (LPH-3)

    • USS Tripoli (LPH-10)

    • USS Valley Forge (LPH-8)

  • Supply Ships:

    • USS Camden (AOE-2)

    • USS Sacramento (AOE-1)

    • USS White Plains (AFS-4)

    • USS Mars (AFS-1)

Eligibility for VA Blue Water Benefit Program

Veterans eligible for the VA Blue Water Benefit Program are those who served on ships in the offshore waters of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975. These Veterans, known as Blue Water Navy Veterans, must have served not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of waters of Vietnam and Cambodia. To qualify, they must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

These Veterans are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides like Agent Orange and can apply for disability compensation for a range of presumptive conditions. These conditions include various cancers, diabetes mellitus type 2, and Parkinson's disease, among others. Additionally, secondary conditions resulting from these primary diseases may also be covered. To apply for these benefits, Veterans must submit VA Form 21-526EZ along with their service and medical records. The VA provides extensive resources and support to help Veterans navigate the application process and receive the benefits they are entitled to for their service and sacrifices.

Presumptive Conditions

Presumptive conditions are specific health issues that the VA automatically considers to be related to a Veteran's military service. This presumption is based on the Veteran having served in certain locations or during specific time periods associated with increased risk of exposure to hazardous substances, such as Agent Orange, burn pits, or contaminated water supplies. Veterans with presumptive conditions do not need to provide evidence that the condition was directly caused by their service, which simplifies and expedites the claims process. Examples of presumptive conditions include various cancers, respiratory diseases, diabetes mellitus type 2, and Parkinson’s disease. This designation ensures that Veterans receive timely access to the health care and disability benefits they need.

 

Secondary Conditions

Secondary conditions are health issues that develop as a direct result of an already service-connected condition. When a primary service-connected condition leads to additional health problems, these secondary conditions can also be considered service-connected. For instance, a Veteran with diabetes mellitus type 2 (a presumptive condition) might develop peripheral neuropathy or kidney disease as a result of their diabetes. These secondary conditions can be claimed for additional VA disability benefits, providing comprehensive coverage for all health issues related to the Veteran's service. When filing their claims, veterans must provide medical evidence showing the link between the primary service-connected condition and the secondary condition.

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Registry

The VA Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Registry is a program designed to collect and analyze health information from Veterans who served on ships in the offshore waters of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. This registry helps the VA monitor and assess the long-term health effects of herbicide exposure, such as Agent Orange, on these Veterans.

 

Reasons to Participate:

  1. Health Monitoring: Helps the VA track and manage service-related health conditions.

  2. Enhanced Research: Supports studies on the impact of herbicide exposure, leading to better treatments.

  3. Informed Care: Allows the VA to provide tailored health care based on specific needs.

  4. Advocacy and Policy: Aids in developing policies and programs to support affected Veterans.

 

How to Register:

  • Online: Complete the online form by visiting the VA's Agent Orange Registry webpage.

  • By Phone: Call the VA Benefits Hotline at 800-827-1000.

  • In-Person: Visit a local VA medical center or clinic.

  • By Mail: Contact the VA for the necessary forms and submit them by mail.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE:

The Agent Orange Registry program is separate from the process of filing a VA benefits claim. Participation in the registry, which includes a free health exam and documentation of herbicide exposure, does not impact your ability to file a claim or affect the outcome of any claims submitted for VA benefits.

Presumptive Conditions for Blue Water Veterans and Their Secondary Conditions:

1. AL Amyloidosis

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Heart disease

    • Kidney failure

    • Liver damage

2. Chronic B-cell Leukemias

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Infections (due to a weakened immune system)

    • Anemia

    • Lymph node enlargement

3. Chloracne (or similar acneform disease)

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Skin infections

    • Scarring

4. Diabetes Mellitus Type 2

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage in the extremities)

    • Diabetic retinopathy (eye damage)

    • Kidney disease

    • Cardiovascular diseases (heart attack or stroke)

5. Hodgkin's Disease

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Secondary cancers (such as leukemia or lung cancer)

    • Thyroid disorders

    • Heart disease

6. Ischemic Heart Disease

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Heart failure

    • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)

    • Stroke

7. Multiple Myeloma

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Bone fractures

    • Kidney dysfunction

    • Infections

8. Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Secondary cancers

    • Heart disease

    • Infections

9. Parkinson's Disease

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Depression

    • Dementia

    • Autonomic dysfunction (problems with blood pressure regulation, digestion, etc.)

10. Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Chronic pain

    • Infections

    • Mobility issues

11. Porphyria Cutanea Tarda

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Liver disease

    • Chronic skin conditions

12. Prostate Cancer

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Bone metastasis (cancer spreading to the bones)

    • Urinary incontinence

    • Erectile dysfunction

13. Respiratory Cancers (including lung, bronchus, larynx, and trachea)

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

    • Pulmonary fibrosis

    • Secondary cancers

14. Soft Tissue Sarcomas

  • Secondary Conditions:

    • Lymphedema (swelling due to lymphatic system blockage)

    • Secondary cancers

    • Chronic pain

Eligibility for PACT Act Conditions for Blue Water Veterans

Yes, Blue Water Navy Veterans are eligible for conditions covered under the PACT Act. The PACT Act (Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022) expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. This includes those who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam during the specified period and are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides like Agent Orange.

 

Under the PACT Act, additional presumptive conditions related to toxic exposure are recognized, further broadening the range of health issues for which Blue Water Navy Veterans can receive compensation and medical care. These conditions include various cancers, respiratory issues, and other serious health problems that have been linked to toxic exposures. Veterans can apply for these expanded benefits by submitting VA Form 21-526EZ along with their medical and service records, ensuring they receive comprehensive support for their service-connected health issues.

Advice for Veterans on Filing Claims

Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange should gather comprehensive medical records and documentation of their service in eligible locations. When filing a claim, it's crucial to clearly state the specific conditions being claimed and provide evidence of their diagnosis and service connection. Veterans should participate in the Agent Orange Registry to document their exposure, although this is separate from the claims process.

 

For best results, veterans should seek assistance from accredited VA disability advocates and representatives who can guide them through the claims process, ensure all necessary documentation is submitted, and help appeal any denied claims. Regularly updating and maintaining medical records and staying informed about legislative changes, like the PACT Act, can also enhance the chances of a successful claim.

The VA Disability Advocates Main Office is Located in Las Vegas, NV. We Represent Veterans throughout the United States. 702-92-4883 

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