“A Lifeline A Foot Short”
NVLSP Statement on Signage of H.R. 299, The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, Into Law
WASHINGTON -The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s signing of H.R.299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, into law.
“The signing of H.R. 299 into law is long overdue recognition of the suffering Blue Water Vietnam Veterans have endured for our country and its connection to Agent Orange exposure,” said Bart Stichman, NVLSP Executive Director. “But while H.R. 299 commendably gives these veterans and their survivors the right to retroactive benefits, it unfortunately fails to require that the VA automatically identify the thousands of veterans and survivors who are entitled to retroactive benefits back to the date their prior claim was filed.”
“The fruits of H.R. 299 will only be received if veterans and their survivors find out about their rights to retroactive benefits through VA outreach and then affirmatively file a new claim,” said Stichman. “Obviously, only a percentage of those entitled will benefit. Thus, Congress has unfortunately thrown thousands of disabled veterans and their survivors a lifeline that is a foot short.”
H.R. 299 follows the recent Procopio v. Wilkie decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which invalidated the VA rule denying the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to all veterans who served in the 12 nautical mile territorial sea of the Republic of Vietnam.
Courtesy of Carol Olszanecki, Blue Water Navy widow via Paul Sutton