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Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act claims now being determined

POSTED ON THURSDAY, 02 JANUARY 2020 01:04


WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs began deciding claims for the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 at 12:01 a.m., Philippine Standard Time, Jan. 1, 2020.

The Philippines is the farthest east VA regional benefits office.

The act extends the presumption of herbicide exposure, which include toxins such as Agent Orange, to veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Signed into law Jun. 25, the law specifically affects Blue Water Navy, or BWN, veterans who served no more than 12 nautical miles offshore of the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 6, 1962, and May 7, 1975, as well as veterans who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone between Jan. 1, 1967 and Aug. 31, 1971.

These veterans can now apply for disability compensation and other benefits if they have since developed one of 14 conditions that are presumed to be related to exposure to herbicides.

Veterans do not need to prove that they were exposed to herbicides. The specific conditions can be found by searching the term “Agent Orange” on www.va.gov.

“For six months, VA worked diligently to gather and digitize records from the National Archives and Records Administration to support faster claims decisions,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “These efforts will positively impact the claims process for veterans filing for these benefits.”

To be eligible, a veteran must have served in the identified locations during the specified time period and currently have a condition(s) associated with herbicide exposures, such as Agent Orange.

Blue Water Navy claims are being processed under current prioritization criteria; however, special priority is being given to veterans who are over the age of 85 or have a terminal condition.

Qualifying recipients include affected Veterans who are still living and certain survivors of deceased BWN and Korean DMZ Veterans.

Survivors can file claims for benefits based on the Veteran’s service if the Veteran died from at least one of the 14 presumptive conditions associated with herbicides such as Agent Orange. The law also provides benefits for children born with spina bifida if their parent is or was a veteran with certain verified service in Thailand during a specific period.

The act includes provisions impacting the VA Home Loan Program. Veterans have more access to obtain no-down payment home loans, regardless of loan amount, and the home loan funding fee is reduced for eligible Reservists and National Guard borrowers who use their home loan benefits for the first time. VA’s website describes the eligibility of certain Purple Heart recipients who do not have to pay a funding fee as well as other benefits.

Veterans who want to file an initial claim for an herbicide-related disability can use VA Form 21-526EZ, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits or work with a VA-recognized Veterans Service Organization to assist with the application process. Veterans may also contact their state Veterans Affairs Office.

BWN veterans who previously filed a claim seeking service connection for one of the 14 presumptive conditions that was denied by VA may provide or identify any new and relevant information regarding their claim when reapplying.

To reapply, veterans may use VA Form 20-0995, Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim.

As a result of the new law, VA will automatically review claims that are currently in the VA review process or under appeal.

Visit Blue Water Navy Veterans benefits for more information or call 1-800-749-8387 for special issues.


Commissary, Military Service Exchange, and MWR access extended to more Veterans beginning January

New law provides eligible Veterans and Primary Family Caregivers with access to DoD and Coast Guard commissaries, exchanges, and morale, welfare, and recreation retail services.


According to the Department of Defense, starting Jan. 1, 2020, all service-connected Veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war (POW), and individuals approved and designated as the primary family caregivers of eligible Veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) can use commissaries, exchanges, and morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) retail facilities, in-person and online.

For more information regarding these privileges and access to military installations, visit http://www.militaryonesource.mil/expanding-access


Who is eligible Jan. 1, 2020?
  • Veterans
    • Purple Heart recipients
    • former prisoners of war
    • Veterans with 0-90% service-connected disability ratings
    • (For former service members who have not yet sought disability compensation from VA, visit https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/)
  • Medal of Honor recipients and Veterans with 100% service-connected disability ratings are already eligible under existing DOD policy.
  • Caregivers
    • On Jan. 1, individuals approved and designated as the primary family caregiver of an eligible veteran under the PCAFC will be eligible for these privileges.
    • For information about primary family caregivers in the PCAFC, visit https://www.caregiver.va.gov.

Required credentials.
  • Veterans
    • On Jan. 1, Veterans eligible solely under this act who are eligible to obtain a Veteran Health Identification Card must use this credential for in-person installation and privilege access. The card must display the Veteran’s eligibility status (i.e., PURPLE HEART, FORMER POW or SERVICE CONNECTED). Apply here: https://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vhic/index.asp.
    • Veterans eligible solely under this act who are not enrolled in or are not eligible to enroll in VA health care, or who are enrolled in VA health care, but do not possess a Veteran Health Identification Card will not have access to DoD and Coast Guard installations for in-person commissary, exchange, and MWR retail privileges, but will have full access to online exchanges and American Forces Travel.
    • Medal of Honor recipients and Veterans with 100% service-connected disability ratings are eligible for DoD credentials under DoD policy.
  • Caregivers
    • Eligible caregivers will receive an eligibility letter from VA’s Office of Community Care.
    • If you are a primary family caregiver under the PCAFC and lose your eligibility letter, please call 1-877-733-7927 to request a replacement. Please allow two weeks for processing.

Find out more about military resale privileges.

UNITED VETERANS COUNCIL


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