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Press Release

January  11, 2007


No. 07-001

Mokie Porter
301-585-4000, Ext. 146



VVA Applauds Court for Overturning Decision
By VA Secretary on "Haas-Type Claims"

(Washington, D.C. ) – The federal Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on January 9th overturned a unilateral decision by the VA Secretary that had imposed a stay on so-called “Haas-type claims.” These are claims for disability compensation for conditions presumptive to exposure to Agent Orange filed by service members who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam and earned the Vietnam Service Medal.

The court acted in favor of an appeal by Vietnam veteran Nicholas Ribaudo, whose claim had been placed on hold by the VA Secretary. The court determined that the VA had erred in issuing a unilateral stay on Haas-type claims, ruling that “the head of an executive agency does not have the authority to nullify the legal effect of a judicial decision.” The Secretary did just that by imposing “a stay of indefinite duration without first seeking judicial imprimatur.

“The Secretary will decide Mr. Ribaudo’s appeal in regular order according to its place upon the docket,” the court stated, “and will apply this court’s decision in Haas.” The court had determined in Haas v. Nicholson in August 2006 that service members who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam and who had earned the Vietnam Service Medal would be eligible for disability compensation for exposure to Agent Orange.

“Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) applauds the court’s decision to vacate the Secretary’s precipitous administrative order and ordering that these cases be heard forthwith,” said John Rowan, National President of VVA. “This decision reaffirms one of the central tenets of our Constitution, that we are a government of laws, not of men.”


Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

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