The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that it will not lift the stay on Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans' claims imposed by Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie earlier this year.
The court heard oral arguments last month in a lawsuit filed by veterans nonprofit group Military Veterans Advocacy Inc. (MVA). The lawsuit asked that the court lift the VA-imposed delay on processing Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans' Agent Orange disability claims. The delay affects more than 400,000 veterans or surviving family members who could be eligible for benefits, according to VA.
"Although the court did not lift the stay and found that Congress intended for the stay to apply, we still consider this a win," Retired Navy Commander John Wells, director of litigation and chairman of the board of MVA, told Connecting Vets. "They have stated in no uncertain terms the stay cannot go beyond Jan. 1, 2020."
After decades of trying to win disability benefits from the VA, thousands of Blue Water veterans exposed to toxic herbicide Agent Orange are still waiting for a chance to receive disability benefits -- even after a landmark court decision and a law awarding those benefits passed Congress and was signed by President Donald Trump.
The lawsuit attempted to overturn a stay ordered by Wilkie and first reported by Connecting Vets in July. The stay was allowed under the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act passed by Congress and the president, Wilkie says, and it stalled all claims processing until Jan. 1, 2020.