For many years, Congressional presumption of exposure to Agent Orange extended only to Vietnam veterans who put “boots on the ground” in the landmass of Vietnam, served in the Brown Water Navy, or served in other places where the VA concedes Agent Orange was used (such as the Korean DMZ and certain Royal Thai Air Force Bases). In general, veterans who, during active military, naval, or air service, served in the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning January 9, 1962 and ending on May 7, 1975 were presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. Such a veteran could qualify for presumptive service connection for certain conditions or diseases if service involved duty or visitation on the landmass of the Republic of Vietnam, including the inland waterways of the Republic of Vietnam.
With respect to Navy veterans in particular, those Navy veterans of the Vietnam war era who served on a ship or boat that operated in the inland waterways of the Republic of Vietnam (“brown water Navy veterans”) were entitled to take advantage of the presumption of Agent Orange exposure. However, “blue water Navy veterans” were not so entitled. “Blue water Navy veterans” are those Navy veterans of the Vietnam war era who served on a ship or boat that did not proceed into the inland waterways of the Republic of Vietnam.
In a decision issued January 29, 2019 (the Procopio decision), the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims determined that presumption of exposure to Agent Orange does extend to blue water Navy veterans . If you or a Navy veteran you know qualifies as a “blue water Navy veteran”, please let us know if we can assist you in filing a claim or handling an appeal for Agent Orange exposure.