Navy veterans of the Vietnam War are now able to file for certain disability benefits after years of inaction by the federal government.
A federal court ruled disability benefits for diseases linked to Agent Orange should be extended to Navy veterans who served in the Vietnam War.
According to a report by WAND TV, Superintendent for the Sangamon County Veterans Assistance, Kimberly Fuiten, said Agent Orange, a chemical used to clear vegetation, was thought to reach sailors up to 12 miles off the coast of Vietnam.
Fuiten said that “Agent Orange was sprayed on multiple areas throughout Vietnam,”. And ” It caused these conditions many years later. Many people passed away right after their service.”
Now, nearly 50 years later, Navy sailors off the cost of Vietnam are finally receiving disability benefits under the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, which was signed into law on June 25, and went into effect on January 1st.
Fuiten says there is a list of disabilities the VA recognizes including a long list of cancers. Fuiten said that the majority of the disabilities they see in Blue Water Navy Veterans are, diabetes, heart conditions and Parkinson’s.
The VA started working on these claims on Jan. 1, 2020., and says that Blue Water Navy Veterans are encouraged to submit disability compensation claims for conditions presumed to be related to Agent Orange exposure. Veterans over age 85 or with life-threatening illnesses will have priority in the claims processing.
Fuiten says veterans, and even families of the deceased can get with their local veterans service officers to see if they are eligible to file a claim.
Fuiten says that “It’s a great thing because they are finally going to be recognized for their service,”.