An article from the Military Officers of America Association (MOAA) September 2019 magazine is quoted in part to ensure our MASSEY Blue Water Navy Veterans from the 1966 WESPAC cruise are up to speed on the latest info available. The MOAA article states that the VA will start deciding on Agent Orange Blue Water Navy veteran claims on 1 January 2020. Although the law was signed into effect on 25 June 2019, the effective provisions do not take effect until 1 January 2020. Veterans who previously submitted claims for Agent Orange related conditions may resubmit their claims at that time. Survivors of Blue Water Navy veterans can also apply for Agent Orange exposure related benefits under the new law.
The VA list of Agent Orange related conditions listed in the article includes: AL amyloidosis; Chloracne or similar acneform disease; Chronic B-cell leukemias; Diabetes mellitus Type 2; Hodgkin lymphoma; Ischemic heart disease; Multiple myeloma; Non-Hodgkin lymphoma; Parkinson’s disease; Peripheral neuropathy; Porphyria cutanea tarda; Prostate cancer; Respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus; larynx, or trachea); and soft tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chrondo-sarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma).
An appeal was filed by MOAA to lift the stay on processing claims until 1 January 2020 but no response has yet been received from the VA. For more info on filing an Agent Orange exposure claim, the MOAA article recommends going to https://bit.ly/2XyN06h or call the VA at (800) 827-1000.
October 2019 Update
MOAA and 17 other veteran & military service organizations have joined forces in formally calling on federal law makers to address the apparent budgetary gaps preventing full implementation of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act passed during the recent 115th Congress. The VA lobbied to have the claims start date deferred to 1 January 2020 due to lack of funding and the need for over 800 new billets to handle the expanded workload. Given the VA’s deferred start implementation, the ball for additional funding and billets appears to be back in the lap of Congress. Given there is no absolute guaranty that the VA will have the needed resources to support expanded support by 1 January, it is recommended that MASSEY crew members write to your Congressional representatives to provide the necessary resources.