VA officials have disputed the need for $5 billion in funding to support veterans who are struggling from disabilities that stem from services rendered during Blue Water in Vietnam.
The Vietnam conflict is one of the most notorious events in American military history. The war was filled with long, costly, and divisive battles between North and South Vietnam and the south’s primary ally, the United States. Often referred to as the Second Indochina War, the Vietnam War waged more than 20 years of devastation. And even though it’s been almost five decades since the final battle, this catastrophic sequence of events continues to take a toll on everyday lives.
VA Benefits Update—A Battle for Blue Water Veterans Today, a staggering number of veterans are still suffering from the chemicals they were exposed to long ago. A mustard gas and defoliant crop dusting solution known as Agent Orange has been particularly detrimental, as it has led to thousands of disabilities, including cases of liver disease and kidney cancer. So many troops have been granted medical benefits to help cope with the effects of Agent Orange exposure, but unfortunately, one class of heroes is still excluded from coverage—Blue Water Navy veterans. Here’s everything you need to know about the current dilemma:
The Importance of Blue Water Blue Water Navy Veterans served on ships just off the coast of Vietnam during the course of the war. During their tenure, Agent Orange gas exposures were at an all-time high. Chemicals were steadily sprayed into drinking water and air. Nearly 90,000 Veterans served on Blue Water ships and a vast number were forced to leave the workforce early because of an illness contracted from gas exposures. Exposure may have been inevitable, but much of this crisis could have been averted had ships had more effective environmental monitoring at the time. Today, thousands of former troops still suffer from the after-effects of Agent Orange. Many are still dealing with harmful respiratory illnesses, liver diseases, and more. Sadly, many are being denied work due to their health conditions. Unfortunately, many are unable to obtain disability compensation to treat these health concerns appropriately. Even if they are able to prove their status as former service members, many are still being denied by the VA due to a claim that gas testing was a known possibility during the Vietnam era.
Where Are We Now? In January, the Supreme Court ruled it to be unjust to deny disability benefits to Veterans who served in ships off the waters of Vietnam. Unfortunately, the issue is that many Veterans have made faulty claims to obtain healthcare benefits. Many VA advocates are fighting for a presumptive benefit plan that would support tens of thousands of Navy veterans. Funding for this benefit program is worth as much as $5 billion over the course of 10 years.
What Are the Next Steps? In January, the Department of Justice may have asked for a 30-day extension to settle the request for proper disability compensation, but it could take all of 2019 to reach a decision. There’s a lot of ground to cover considering the number of bills pending in the House and Senate that address this issue already. And since many representatives have objected to the federal court’s ruling for presumptive support, expect this to be an ongoing issue with many policy changes. Congress has yet to draft an implementation plan. Until a final ruling is made, make sure you have the proper medical insurance and VA assistance.
Take Advantage of the Right Veteran Support Program American Veterans Care Committee goes to great lengths to help those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Our team works relentlessly to support Veterans and their families with the right healthcare aid. We are a team of problem solvers who specialize in helping Veterans find the right services to help them remain in their homes. Obtain the benefits you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with the AVCC team.