On Wednesday, June 12, 2019, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill to extend disability benefits to veterans who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam, known as Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans. This move signals the end of a decades-long fight for these former sailors and Marines to receive compensation for diseases presumed to be caused by exposure to the chemicals known as Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War.
As previously reported, the same legislation passed the U.S. House last month. The Senate vote sends the bill to President Trump for his signature. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a ruling in favor of the veterans, saying Congress never intended to exclude service members in the seas around Vietnam in the original legislation.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department decided against appealing the court's decision.
The legislation passed by both the House and Senate will extend disability compensation to personnel who served offshore of the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, within 12 nautical miles of the coast of Vietnam and Cambodia, along a line of demarcation spelled out in the bill.
View the Veterans Against Myeloma: Guide to VA Benefits to learn more.