110,000 Carrier Sailors 'Left Behind'
There has lately been a lot of press coverage for the Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans who did not step foot on the solid ground of Mainland Vietnam or any of its many surrounding islands. This matter concerns their VA Benefit eligibility for presumptive exposure to herbicides (Agent Orange) in Vietnam while serving aboard ships offshore in a variety of direct combat and combat support roles. They recently won a landmark court ruling and have had legislation (that had been kicked around the Legislature since 2007) finally passed and signed into law by the President. They now face an unreasonable and possibly illegal delay of their Benefit awards imposed by the VA.
Anyone reading through the current information would think that all the Blue Water Navy sailors who served in the Theater of Combat offshore Vietnam have received their long-awaited Benefits. But that would be incorrect and no one is providing detailed information about which veterans are eligible for these Benefits and which are not. And many are still unaware that there was ever a question concerning their Benefits at all. The sailors who have recently won their presumption of exposure to Agent Orange are only those who served within a narrow band of water called the Territorial Seas of Vietnam, and then only when south of the 17th parallel. The fact is, this new law excludes many sailors who served on aircraft carriers. That might well be a significant number of Blue Water Navy sailors who served in the Vietnam Theater of Combat who should be eligible for these Benefits.