On January 29, 2019, the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Procopio v. Wilkie. In its decision, the Federal Circuit overruled Haas v. Peake, which previously excluded Blue Water Navy veterans from the presumption of exposure to herbicides during the Vietnam War. Specifically, the Federal Circuit found that “Republic of Vietnam” includes both the country’s landmass and its territorial seas in which Blue Water Navy veterans served. This decision impacts thousands of Blue Water Navy veterans who will now be afforded the same presumption of exposure to herbicides as veterans who served “boots on the ground” in Vietnam. As a result, Blue Water Navy veterans will also be afforded the same presumption of service connection and receive the same Agent Orange benefits. Namely, if Blue Water Navy veterans develop any of the presumptive conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange, VA should award service connection without requiring a specific in-service event as the cause of their disability.
Presumptive Conditions Associated with Agent Orange Exposure
The following conditions have been identified by VA as “presumptive diseases” related to in-service exposure to Agent Orange. In order to be eligible for presumptive service connection and Agent Orange benefits, Blue Water Navy veterans must have a current diagnosis of one of these conditions:
- AL Amyloidosis
- Chronic B-cell leukemias
- Chloracne (Note: Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides in order to be considered presumptive.)
- Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
- Hodgkin’s Disease
- Ischemic Heart Disease (includes Coronary Artery Disease, stable and unstable angina, myocardial infarction, and sudden cardiac death)
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset (Note: Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides in order to be considered presumptive.)
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (Note: Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides in order to be considered presumptive.)
- Prostate Cancer
- Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer)
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
It is important to note that if further disease or disability results from one of the above listed presumptive conditions, you can file a claim for a secondary condition.
Agent Orange Benefits for Blue Water Navy Veterans
Blue Water Navy veterans who develop any of the above-mentioned presumptive conditions are now eligible to receive VA healthcare and disability compensation without having to prove a link between their condition and their service. Additionally, surviving spouses and dependent children of Blue Water Navy veterans who were exposed to herbicides during military service and died as the result of one of the presumptive conditions may be eligible for survivor’s benefits.
Blue Water Navy Veterans: Call 800-544-9144 for a Free Case Evaluation
Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD is very experienced in helping veterans pursue claims for Agent Orange benefits and may be able to assist in your case. For a free case evaluation, or to speak with a member of our staff, call 800-544-9144 today.