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Courtney Applauds Court Decision Favoring Blue Water Navy Veterans

January 29, 2019
Press Release

Washington – This evening, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, applauded a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that presumptive service connections under the Agent Orange Act of 1991 also apply to Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans. The 9-2 panel ruling in favor of Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans has been hailed as a significant victory by Congressman Courtney and other lawmakers who have sought to resolve the issue through legislation.

“It is welcome news that the Court corrected a 17-year injustice today,” said Congressman Courtney. “The ‘boots-on-the-ground' rule was an arbitrary, unfair obstruction which was not the intent of Congress, as the court ruled today. This decision reinforces Blue Water Navy veterans’ rights to the benefits they have earned though their wartime service to our country. It’s an encouraging development, and I’ll be reaching out to the VA and to committee staff to determine the best way Congress can reinforce this ruling.” 

Congressman Courtney has led measures in Congress to expand eligibility for compensation to Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans who are currently suffering from diseases which the VA has linked to Agent Orange exposure. Most recently, Courtney helped to introduce the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R. 299), a bill that would codify Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans’ eligibility for benefits and compensation under the Agent Orange Act. The Department of Veterans Affairs now has the option to appeal today’s ruling to the US Supreme Court.