Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vietnam Veterans Eligible For New Benefits

New Agent Orange Disabilities Added To List

LABELLE, FL. -- Three new disabilities have been added to the list of Vietnam Veteran disabilities recognized as Agent Orange related. The three that are being recognized are ischemic heart disease, Parkinson's disease and B-cell leukemias (such as hairy cell leukemia.) This brings to 15 disabilities that are now recognized.

Veterans have until August 31, 2011 to apply for these new conditions and the effective date of any benefits awarded will be August 31, 2010. If a veteran previously applied for disability compensation for any of the new issues, the effective date could be earlier. Surviving spouses are also entitled to apply for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) if their spouse would have died from any of these conditions.

To qualify for disabilities related to Agent Orange, a veteran generally must have served "in country" in Vietnam meaning they must prove that they actually set foot on land in Vietnam. There have been ongoing court cases involving veterans who served on the ships in the waters off of Vietnam. These veterans are referred to as Blue Water Veterans and are generally Navy veterans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has expanded Agent Orange benefits to some of these veterans and the VA is now referring to them as Brown Water Veterans because they must have served on the inland waters of Vietnam or docked at one of the ports. A list of the vessels that are now being recognized as having served in the inland waters establishing the presumption for exposure to Agent Orange is available.

For more information in Hendry and Glades county contact David Abney, Veterans Service Officer in LaBelle at 863-675-5250 and Jim Harringon in Glades county at (863) 946-1281.

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