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Blue Water Navy Definition

Vietnam-era Blue Water Navy veterans are considered to be those who served aboard ships in the open waters off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and who did not go ashore. It is estimated that there are between 50,000 and 90,000 Blue Water Navy veterans. Historically, VA has excluded Blue Water Navy veterans from its presumption of herbicide agent exposure based on a decision in the case Haas v. Peake. However, on January 29, 2019, the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Procopio v. Wilkie, overruling Haas to include Blue Water Navy veterans under the presumption of exposure. As a result, many more veterans are now eligible for VA disability compensation and have an easier path to getting the benefits to which they are rightfully entitled. VA has recently begun the process of adjudicating Blue Water Navy veterans’ claims, after VA Secretary Wilkie’s stay on all cases affected by this law was lifted.

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 was also signed into law by President Trump on June 25, 2019. This bipartisan bill accompanies the Procopio decision insofar as it extends the presumption of herbicide exposure to veterans who served within twelve nautical miles seaward of the demarcation line of Vietnam. This law also extends the time period of the presumption for veterans who served along the Korean DMZ to September 1, 1967 until August 31, 1971. Additionally, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 provides access to health care, vocational training, rehabilitation, and monetary allowance to children with spina bifida of certain Thailand veterans who served during the Vietnam era.