The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 took effect Jan. 1. The new law extends the presumption of herbicides exposure to veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam.
Eligible Blue Water Navy (BWN) veterans are able to apply for disability compensation and other benefits if they served in the designated area between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 and developed one of 14 illnesses related to contact with herbicides such as Agent Orange. In addition, Veterans who served in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone between Sept. 1, 1967 and Aug. 31, 1971, may also qualify for benefits for themselves and their family members.
With the implementation of the BWN Act on Jan. 1, the Department of Veterans Affairs began deciding claims to deliver benefits to eligible BWN veterans and survivors. Such claims will be processed under current prioritization with special priority given to BWN Veterans over age 85 or those with terminal conditions.
In addition, the act includes changes to the loan guarantee program for all veterans, not just BWN veterans. The website also includes the latest developments and resources that are beneficial to understanding the law, Veterans’ eligibility and how to apply. A communication toolkit is also available. This information is accessible at https://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/bwnact.asp.