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Ahead of Veterans Day, Rep. Courtney Announces Resource Page to Help “Blue Water” Navy Veterans Access New Benefits

November 8, 2019
Press Release

NORWICH, CT – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) announced the creation of new resource page to provide Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans, their families, and others with important information on how to apply for new resources being made available to Blue Water veterans through the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA). The new resources are being made available to veterans following Congress’s passage the signing into law of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R. 299). Rep. Courtney is encouraging eastern Connecticut veterans, Veterans Service Organizations, and other stakeholders to review the guidance being issued by the VA to Blue Water veterans suffering from health complications related to Agent Orange exposure, and has published a new resource page on his website to provide veterans and their families with information on H.R. 299, and on how to file or re-file to receive the benefits they deserve.

“These are men and women who have fought tooth and nail for well over a decade to produce this policy change within the VA, and it’s been an honor to work alongside them to achieve this result,” said Congressman Courtney. “The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act’s enactment is quickly approaching – come January, our Blue Water Vietnam veterans and their families will finally be able to receive the compensation they deserve through the VA for injuries they sustained in service to our country.

“This is a monumental achievement for all of the men and women who have advocated for this effort over the years, and there’s a lot of information for veterans and their families to consider while they prepare to file, or re-file a claim with the VA. I’m encouraging all Blue Water veterans, their families, and anyone else interested in this new guidance by the VA to visit the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act resource page on my website, and to contact a Veterans Caseworker in my office so that we can make sure folks have the information they need to get the care they deserve.”

Blue Water veterans served on Navy ships off the coast of Vietnam during the war, and although they didn’t step foot on land, they were exposed to the toxic chemical known as Agent Orange when polluted seawater containing chemical runoff from rivers was brought onboard for various purposes. For decades, these men and women have been refused treatment for their injuries through the VA due to never having “boots-on-the-ground” during the Vietnam War. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R. 299) removes this arbitrary classification, and expands to these veterans the health benefits they deserve so that they can receive treatment for their injuries through the VA.

Rep. Courtney has been a lead co-sponsor of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act since the 112th Congress. This year, H.R. 299 was passed by the House of Representatives in May, the Senate followed suit in June, and the President signed the bill into law shortly thereafter. The law takes effect on January 1, 2020, and states that “Veterans aboard a vessel operating not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides such as Agent Orange and may be entitled to service connection for conditions related to that exposure.”

Congressman Courtney has published a resource page on his website regarding the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, and to provide more information to veterans and their families seeking to file or re-file claims to receive benefits. Click here to visit Rep. Courtney’s Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act resource page.