Bill expands benefits for Navy veterans of Vietnam War

Texas veterans of the Blue Water Navy can now receive veterans' disability benefits for illnesses caused by Agent Orange exposure after a bill was signed into law. On June 25, President Donald Trump signed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. The bill allows veteran of the U.S. Navy who served off the Vietnamese coast during the Vietnam War to receive disability benefits for these types of medical problems. While veterans who directly served inside Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 are presumed to need coverage for illnesses linked to the use of the toxic herbicide, Navy veterans who served off the coast were previously often denied benefits.

Under the Agent Orange Act of 1991, Navy veterans who served in the waterways of Vietnam were covered for cancer treatment, Parkinson's disease, diabetes and other illnesses and disabilities tied to Agent Orange. This bill, H.R. 299, extends those benefits to all members of the military who served at sea within 12 nautical miles of the Vietnamese coast. These veterans will be eligible for disability benefits for conditions presumed to be caused by exposure to herbicide. The adoption of the law will help veterans whose benefits had been denied or placed into a pending status.

In addition, the bill provides spouses of some veterans who died due to disabilities connected with their service with access to pension benefits. The children of veterans who served in Thailand and have spina bifida are also covered for healthcare, vocational training and rehabilitation under the new law.

Many veterans of the Vietnam War have suffered serious difficulties due to Agent Orange exposure. Veterans' benefits can be critical to receive much-needed support and medical care. Veterans who are being denied access to disability benefits may contact a lawyer about their options to pursue the care they deserve.

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