Media Release

Court Expands Coverage for Vietnam Veterans

Thursday, August 24, 2006 1:00 AM
11:47 a.m.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has announced a landmark decision that will directly affect thousands of Vietnam-era veterans. The court's ruling states that the Veterans Administration's requirement for "boots on the ground" as the definition of "service in the Republic of Vietnam" is unreasonable. The court further stated that veterans who served on ships which sailed in close proximity to the shores of Vietnam or those who received the Vietnam Service Medal were exposed to Agent Orange and are now eligible for benefits associated with this exposure.  This ruling opens the possiblity of covering individuals based in Thailand who flew over Vietnam but did not land in Vietnam.
The ruling was handed down earlier this week by the Court in the case of a former sailor who served on an ammunition ship during the Vietnam War but never stepped foot on land. This veteran successfully argued that clouds of the toxic defoliate, which the U.S. sprayed on Vietnamese jungles, drifted out to sea, engulfing his ship and landing on his skin.
There are a number of medical conditions presumed to have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange such as Diabetes Type II, Prostate Cancer and a variety of respiratory cancers. All veterans who served in these areas and any veteran who was previously denied VA benefits due to this exposure or any surviving spouse of a deceased Vietnam veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange are encouraged to contact their local County Veterans Service Officer. Veteran advocates are encouraging individuals to seek coverage quickly because the ruling left it up to government officials whether to change federal regulations in a way to could deny coverage.
Alachua County Veterans Service Officer Jim Lynch is standing by to assist local veterans in making applications and for questions regarding Agent Orange. Please contact him at (352) 264-6740.


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