(Washington, D.C. ) –
“Some of the inequities of the application of
presumptive coverage for exposure to Agent Orange have finally been set
aside,” said John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America.
“We need to spread the word about this decision to all Navy veterans who
served in the waters offshore of Vietnam and received the Vietnam Service
Medal (VSM). This Court decision will allow for an untold number of
veterans and their families to receive the compensation and health care they
are entitled to, as well as other VA programs,” Rowan said.
On August 16, 2006, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
rendered a decision in the appeal of Haas v. Nicholson. In their
31-page decision, the Court determined the Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) has been unlawfully denying presumptive disability compensation for
exposure to Agent Orange (AO) for service members who served in the waters
offshore of Vietnam and earned the VSM.
Numerous veterans who served in Vietnam have been able to
qualify for presumptive disability compensation for exposure to AO.
Unfortunately the application of presumptive coverage has resulted in many
inequities for veterans and their families. An example of this can be seen
in the VA’s denials of presumptive service connection to service members who
served on boats and ships off the coast of Vietnam. Although these veterans
earned and received the VSM, many have had their claims denied by VA for
presumptive disability due to AO exposure because they did not step foot on
the ground in Vietnam.
“All veterans who served in the waters offshore need to speak
with a service representative or service officer as soon as possible to see
if they have a viable claim for compensation,” Rowan said. These veterans
should also participate in the Agent Orange registry exam. I fully expect
the VA will attempt to rescind and revise their interpretation of the law.
If you have had a claim denied or have never filed, you must do so before
the regulations change again in favor of the VA.”