The US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims issued a decision in April 2015 that is of great interest to Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans. For disability benefits purposes, the Department of Veterans Affairs (The VA) concedes that Vietnam Veterans who set foot on the Republic of Vietnam or served in inland waterways were exposed to herbicides, including Agent Orange. Veterans are eligible for disability benefits if they have an illness that is associated with herbicide exposure and served in those designated areas.
The VA has long refused to recognize Da Nang Harbor as an inland waterway and does not grant Veterans a "presumption" that they were exposed to herbicides while in service. This interpretation by the VA has prevented Veterans who served in Da Nang Harbor from receiving disability benefits for illnesses related to herbicide exposure.
As of May 1, 2015, the VA recognizes the following illnesses to be associated with exposure to herbicides (including Agent Orange):
- AL amyloidosis
- Chloracne or other acneform disease consistent with chloracne
- Type 2 diabetes (also known as Type II diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes)
- Hodgkin's disease
- Ischemic heart disease (including, but not limited to, acute, subacute, and old myocardial infarction; atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease including coronary artery disease (including coronary spasm) and coronary bypass surgery; and stable, unstable and Prinzmetal's angina)
- All chronic B-cell leukemias (including, but not limited to, hairy-cell leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia)
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Parkinson's disease
- Acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy
- Porphyria cutanea tarda
- Prostate cancer
- Respiratory cancers (cancer of the lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea)
- Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
The Court has determined that the VA's designation of Da Nang Harbor as an offshore waterway, rather than an inland waterway, was arbitrary and capricious. The Court has tasked the VA with re-evaluating their definition of inland waterways, particularly, as it applies to Da Nang Harbor.
If you are a Vietnam War veteran with one of the illnesses associated with herbicide exposure, contact one of our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys today at (404) 692-6494.