Veterans who served in the Navy and Marine Corps during the Vietnam War may now be able to receive compensation and health care benefits for exposure to Agent Orange.
Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie today told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee he has recommended the Department of Justice not appeal a January court ruling that ordered the VA to provide healthcare and disability benefits to more than 90,000 veterans who served in the “Blue Water Navy” during the Vietnam War.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act was unanimously passed by the house last year to provide benefits for affected Sailors and Marines, but later failed in the Senate.
In January, a federal judge ruled that Blue Water Navy veterans should receive the same benefits as all other Vietnam veterans who have illnesses related to exposure to Agent Orange, the defoliant chemical once used by the U.S. Military as part of its herbicidal warfare program.
Veterans have long argued that seawater tainted with Agent Orange was used by ships to make drinking water, exposing those onboard to concentrated levels of dioxin. Wilkie had originally said there was no science that proved the Sailors and Marines were exposed to the chemical.
For more information on benefits, compensation or to find a VA location, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website here.