The Department of Veterans Affairs will reexamine compensation claims from veterans exposed to Agent Orange while serving in the waters off Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
All claims that were previously denied will be automatically reviewed to determine whether affected veterans are now eligible to receive compensation benefits as a result of their exposure to the herbicide.
In November 2020, a district court ordered the VA to review any previously denied compensation claims related to Agent Orange exposure for so-called "Blue Water veterans," who served aboard ships in the territorial waters of Vietnam.
Originally, these veterans were denied benefits, while those who served on inland and coastal waters, along with those serving on land in Vietnam and some other nations, were eligible for benefits.
However, numerous court rulings and changes to the law finally made Blue Water veterans eligible for compensation benefits for illnesses caused by exposure to the herbicide. Children of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange may also suffer health issues, and may be eligible for VA benefits.
Originally, the VA said that Blue Water veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and whose claims were denied due to their service not being in a qualifying location would have to file a new claim. However in an about-face, the department has now said that veterans do not need to file a new claim.
All Agent Orange compensation claims that were originally disallowed because the veteran's service was not in a qualifying location will be automatically reviewed by the VA to determine eligibility based on the new law.
The VA has said that approximately 62,000 veterans or survivors may be eligible for the expanded benefit.
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