American Legion Calls for Agent Orange Benefits for Vietnam Navy Vets

27 May 2011

The American Legion is continuing its efforts calling for Agent Orange benefits to be paid to Blue Water Navy veterans of the Vietnam War.  These veterans still suffer from the toxic effects of exposure to the deadly herbicide.  Veterans’ disability lawyers support the position of the American Legion, which coincides with a report indicating that swimming in the ocean close to shore could have exposed Blue Water Navy personnel to the toxic effects of Agent Orange.

The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes compensation for the toxic effects of Agent Orange for certain veterans who served on the land in Vietnam, or in boats that were on the interior waterways.  However, claims by those who were stationed on warships offshore or personnel who were flying aircraft to Vietnam are not recognized by the VA. 

The Committee on Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange Exposure admits in its report that ground troops and personnel on boats in the interior waterways were likely to have had much greater exposure to the toxic herbicide.  However, Blue Water Navy veterans were also likely to have been exposed to the chemical.  The Department of Veterans Affairs, however, continues to deny this fact. An Institute of Medicine study recently found that the toxicity of the herbicide increased by 10 times after the distillation of contaminated seawater. 

In 2002, the Australian Department of Veterans Affairs conducted studies of Agent Orange contamination, and found that distillation of seawater that had been contaminated by Agent Orange not only did nothing to remove the effect of the herbicide, but also actually enhanced its toxicity.  In Australia, Blue Water Navy veterans have been receiving benefits for Agent Orange exposure for years.  In contrast, in the United States, we continue to bicker over the extent of such exposure.