Court ruling opens door for Agent Orange claims from ‘Blue Water’ veterans

The Mountlake Terrace-based Joint Service Committee, which works with veterans in South Snohomish County, sent an alert this week regarding a federal court ruling that could affect tens of thousands of Navy and Coast Guard veterans suffering with Agent Orange-related disabilities.

According to a recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Navy and Coast Guard veterans who served in the Vietnam War may be entitled to compensation for disabilities resulting from exposure to Agent Orange within the territorial waters of the former Republic of Vietnam, the committee said.

The scope of the court decision covers “Blue Water” veterans who suffer one or more of the following disabilities:

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,
  • soft tissue sarcoma, chloracne,
  • Hodgkin’s disease,
  • porphyria curtanea tardia,
  • respiratory cancers (cancer of the lung, bronchus, larynx or trachea),
  • multiple myeloma,
  • diabetes mellitus (type II),
  • peripheral neuropathy,
  • ischemic heart disease,
  • prostate cancer,
  • B-cell leukemias,
  • Parkinson’s disease, and A
  • L Amyloidosis

According to the Joint Service Committee announcement, the federal circuit in its Jan. 29 decision overturned the Department of Veterans Affairs’ long-standing policy of refusing compensation for Agent Orange-related disability claims from Navy and Coast Guard Vietnam veterans who had not set foot ashore in Vietnam.

The court overruled the VA policy and determined that Congress had intended to include within the scope of The Agent Orange Act of 1991 those “Blue Water” veterans serving within the 12-mile territorial waters of the former Republic of Vietnam, the announcement said.

“Given the extraordinary numbers of ‘Blue Water’ veterans within the Southern Snohomish region of Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Edmonds and other communities within Puget Sound, the scope of the court’s decision could include several thousand Navy and Coast Guard Vietnam veterans that were previously denied compensation for their disabilities,” the announcement added.

The Joint Service Committee, which works out of the A. L. Wilcox Post 234 of the American Legion in Mountlake Terrace, encourages any Navy or Coast Guard Veterans with Agent Orange-related disability to call Rob Caldwell at 206-963-2864 or stop by Wilcox Hall at 22909 56th Ave. W. in Mountlake Terrace on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Joint Service Committee is committed to help all veterans from any branch of the military with new claims and denial of claims by the Department of Veterans Affairs. You can read more about the committee’s work in our earlier story.






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