Vietnam-era sailors who served on ships in open waters around Vietnam know they were exposed to high levels of chemical herbicide via their ships’ water systems. Not only did Agent Orange clear a lot of trees and plants in Vietnam, it also caused a variety of health problems in vets, even vets on boats. These veterans are commonly called Blue Water Navy veterans.
The VA has historically granted benefits to “Brown Water” vets, who served on U.S. Naval and Coast Guard boats that navigated the inland waterways and rivers of Vietnam — while denying benefits to “Blue Water” vets, who served in open water up to 12 nautical miles from the shore of Vietnam.
After years of debate, Congress passed The Blue Water Navy Veterans Act in 2019. The next year a federal judge ordered the VA to begin reviewing previously denied claims. It took until April 2021 for the VA to begin reviewing them.
As a result of the new law and the judge’s ruling, Blue Water veterans may be entitled to veterans benefits and disability compensation. Service members are eligible if they developed one of the presumptive conditions related to contact with Agent Orange and served during certain dates and in certain locations.
In this article, you’ll find a description of the law, a list of Agent Orange presumptive conditions, and a Blue Water Navy ship list.
In this article about the Blue Water Navy:
What is the Blue Water Navy Veterans Act of 2019?
The Blue Water Navy Veterans Act of 2019 extends disability benefits for Agent Orange exposure to veterans who served on the waters around Vietnam — benefits that were previously only available to those who served inland.
You are eligible for disability benefits if you developed one of the conditions related to Agent Orange (outlined later in this article) and served within 12 nautical miles of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.
In 2020, a federal district court judge ordered the VA to reexamine cases that previously denied Blue Water Navy veterans service connection.
The VA moved these cases to the front of the line and began reviewing them in April 2021.
Law Includes Benefits for DMZ Veterans and Some Children with Spina Bifida
The law also expands benefits to two other specific groups including:
- veterans who served in Thailand between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, who have a child diagnosed with spina bifida
- veterans who served in or near the DMZ (the Korean Demilitarized Zone) between Sept. 1, 1967, and Aug. 31, 1971
What is Agent Orange?
Agent Orange was a deadly defoliant chemical the U.S. used to help clear dense jungle that sheltered Vietnamese soldiers.
It is one of several herbicides that contain dioxin, which has been linked to a host of health issues. Here is the list of health problems, which the VA calls presumptive conditions, that may entitle Vietnam War veterans to VA benefits.
VA Benefits for Blue Water Navy Veterans
Vietnam Blue Water Navy veterans who have developed one of the presumptive conditions related to Agent Orange are now among the veterans eligible to receive disability compensation from the VA.
Compensation amounts vary by veteran and their individual disability rating. The current VA disability rates are:
|Disability Rating||Monthly Payment (veteran only)|
Veterans who receive a 100% disability rating or who are granted individual unemployability are also eligible for health care benefits. VA health care benefits cover health exams, immunization, surgeries and treatments, kidney dialysis, specialized care, emergency care service, and mental health services to treat service-connected conditions.
What Navy Ships Were in Vietnam?
Vietnam veterans who served on ships within 12 nautical miles of the Vietnam coast are eligible to receive benefits.
This Vietnam Navy ship list makes it easy for veterans to determine if their ship entered the zone during the dates outlined in the Blue Water Navy Veterans Act. To find your ship, open the link and click CTRL-F to open a search box on the page.
If you need to find your ship’s log to verify your details, you can access them on the National Archives and Records Administration website.
Get Help With Your VA Benefits Claim
Woods and Woods can help you file your benefits application or help you appeal a disability claim. Contact us, and our team of skilled VA benefits attorneys will review your case to see if we can help you get the benefits you deserve. We’ve helped thousands of veterans with their VA disability applications and appeals.
Call us today to discuss your VA disability appeal or your first application. The call is free and we won’t charge you a single fee until we win your case.
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You can apply for the benefits online. Woods and Woods will also give you a free claim evaluation and will help you file your veterans disability benefits application for free.
“Brown Water” vets served on U.S. Naval and Coast Guard ships that navigated the inland waterways and rivers of Vietnam. “Blue Water” vets served up to 12 nautical miles from the shore of Vietnam.