army labels

What Is a Blue Water Navy Veteran?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) defines Blue Water Navy veterans as veterans “who served on open sea ships off the shore of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.” The vessel had to operate within 12 nautical miles seaward from a point known as the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia. If you are a Blue Water Navy veteran, you may be eligible for compensation due to exposures to herbicides. A Michigan veterans disability attorney can help you apply for Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act benefits, and win the disability benefits you deserve. 

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019

This legislation increases the protections and benefits for veterans exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides, and to their children who have medical conditions linked to those herbicides. As of January 1, 2020, there is a presumption that Blue Water Navy Veterans and veterans who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone between January 6, 1962, and May 7, 1975, got exposed to these chemicals. 

The Veterans Administration acknowledges that the herbicides could cause any of these 14 medical conditions:

  • Chronic B-cell leukemia
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers, including cancers of the lungs, trachea, bronchus, and larynx.
  • Some soft tissue sarcomas, including cancers of connective tissues, muscle, fat, lymph nodes, and blood vessels.
  • AL amyloidosis
  • Chloracne
  • Diabetes mellitus type 2
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy, early onset
  • Porphyria cutanea tarda

There is evidence that parental exposure to Agent Orange could cause spina bifida in the veteran’s offspring. If you are a Blue Water Navy Veteran and your child has spina bifida, the VA will provide benefits to your child. However, note that if you have another condition(s) not listed on the list of conditions above that the VA automatically presumes is linked to such herbicide exposure, you still may qualify for veterans disability benefits. If you suspect that your medical condition might be the result of exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides and you are a Blue Water Navy Veteran, you can still submit a claim for VA disability benefits, and you do not have to go at the process alone. 

While you may not have the benefit of presumption if your condition is not included in the above list, this only means that the VA will not automatically presume that the military service-related chemical exposure caused the illness. In that case, you will have to provide medical evidence with your claim to support the nexus. This is where a skilled and experienced Veterans Disability Attorney can help you win the veterans benefits you deserve. 

What Veterans Need to Include in Their Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 Compensation Applications

The VA requires that a Blue Water Navy benefits request use the proper VA form, which could be VA Form 21-526EZ, 21P-534EZ, or 20-0995, depending on your situation.

Your application should contain this information:

  • A statement that you are seeking benefits because you have one of the impairments or illnesses on the list of “conditions related to presumed herbicide exposure,” or another condition that you believe is linked to such exposure;
  • The name of the vessel on which you served and the dates on which you were within 12 nautical miles of Vietnam (if you know these details), and all evidence you have that you served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam between January 6, 1962, and May 7, 1975; and
  • Proof of your diagnosis and that you currently have the illness. If you do not have the necessary medical records available, you can identify the facility where you are receiving treatment, and the VA can obtain the records.

The Blue Water Navy Veterans Act of 2019 contains technical requirements for eligibility. The criteria and evidence needed to prove service connection can be complicated and daunting, as such the majority of claims are unfortunately denied at first. You do not have to go at the process alone and risk a denial and longer wait times. Hiring a Michigan VA disability attorney who is knowledgeable in veterans disability benefits could help you not only win the VA benefits you deserve, but the most compensation possible. Our consultations are free and we strictly specialize in disability benefits. Contact us today.