Tag Archive: Agent Orange Act

VFW Blue Water Navy Vet Wins Federal Appeals Court Ruling

Court of law now joins court of public opinion 

USS Hull, DD945, one of the many ships with Vietnam “Blue Water” Service

WASHINGTON (January 30, 2019) — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a decade-old ruling yesterday that potentially paves the way for the return of earned disability benefits for some 90,000 so-called Blue Water Navy veterans from the Vietnam War. 

The case, Procopio v. Wilkie, was supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and a number of other veterans service organizations and advocates. It had Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Wilkie Jr. being sued by Navy veteran and VFW life member Alfred Procopio Jr., who was denied service connection for prostate cancer and diabetes mellitus because he never stepped foot on dry land or served within Vietnam’s inland waterways. Procopio, a life member of VFW Post 6587 in Spring Lake Park, Minn., was assigned aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, which was stationed inside Vietnam’s 12-mile territorial waters. Both of his illnesses are listed among the VA’s 14 presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange. 

The Federal Appeals Court focused on the intent of the 1991 Agent Orange Act, which was to grant a presumption of service connection for certain diseases to veterans who “served in the Republic of Vietnam.” At issue was whether service within territorial waters constituted service “in the Republic of Vietnam.” By a 9-2 decision, the Appeals Court ruled it did. 

“Although very pleased with the ruling, the VFW isn’t quite ready to celebrate,” said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. “ VA can always appeal the ruling and Congress has yet to pass a Blue Water Navy bill,” he said. “But, it is very encouraging to now have a court of law support Blue Water Navy

Blue Water Navy Legislation Moves Forward

Blue Water Navy Legislation Moves Forward

Some of our Vietnam Navy veterans may find this report on the subject of VA benefits for impacts of agent orange on sailors of the “Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club”.

H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017, as amended, passed the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Tuesday. The VFW-supported bill, which must still be approved by the full House and Senate before going to the president, would restore benefits to thousands of Vietnam veterans, expand inclusive dates to those who served along the Korean DMZ, require VA to report on research related to a broad range of conditions possibly connected to service in Southwest Asia, and benefit children born with spina bifida due to a parent’s exposure to Agent Orange-related herbicides in Thailand. Further, VA will be required to conduct an outreach campaign to those Blue Water Navy sailors who were denied benefits in the past and make retroactive payment of benefits for those previously denied. The vote on this legislation comes 16 years after benefits were lost due to a regulatory change in the Agent Orange Act, and the VFW is proud to have worked with this committee to ensure passage without any cuts to other benefits.