Agent Orange was a herbicidal chemical used by the U.S. military for tactical use during the Vietnam War. Although initially told by the government not to worry about exposure to the chemical, veterans, their wives, and their offspring began having severe health and reproductive issues. In the early 1990’s, Congress passed the Agent Orange Act and the government directed the Institute of Medicine to report on the health effects of Agent Orange. Through this approach, Vietnam Veterans could claim benefits for illnesses listed in connection with Agent Orange. But only some Vietnam Veterans.
Initially, only veterans who served on-shore or near fresh water channels were entitled to claim disability benefits from exposure. The ruling in Procopio v. Wilkie, 913 F.3d 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2019) (codified through the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act) extended the presumption of herbicide exposure to Veterans who served in the offshore waters as well. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, the so-called Blue Water Navy Veterans are finally also presumed to have been exposed to herbicides and may be entitled to benefits.
Although wonderful news for the veterans and families, there may be farreaching impacts on the VA’s already ballooning budget, highly burdened VA system, and overworked VA personnel.
Blue Water Navy Veterans And The Agent Orange Rulings: A Lifeboat For The Veterans; A Storm Warning For The VBA,
Cath. U. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.edu/lawreview/vol72/iss2/9