Today, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) joined his colleagues to pass the “Blue Water” Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, correcting a decades-old wrong and ensuring that Navy veterans who served offshore during the Vietnam War are entitled to the same benefits as other veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
“Not all veterans who served in the Vietnam War have been treated with the respect and honor they deserved. This bill allows the 174,000 Blue Water Navy veterans, who served on ships that patrolled the territorial seas of Vietnam, to get the benefits they earned through their service. As a Vietnam Veteran Commemorative Partner, and a proud member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, this fix is another way I’m working to honor the tremendous sacrifices of Vietnam-era veterans,” said Rep. Peters.
The bill makes Blue Water Navy veterans eligible for disability compensation and requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to alert veterans of this change and reevaluate past claims. During the Vietnam War, Blue Water Navy veterans served on ships in the waters surrounding Vietnam. That same region was exposed to Agent Orange, a powerful chemical used by U.S. forces to kill forests and crops that was later found to cause serious health issues including cancer, birth defects, and psychological damage. Previously, the Department of Veterans Affairs required Blue Water Navy veterans to prove they were directly exposed to Agent Orange before they could receive benefits, which is nearly impossible decades after the Vietnam War. The expanded eligibility also applies to veterans who served in the Korean War demilitarized zone, an area where Agent Orange was tested.