The Department of Veterans Affairs has updated its list of ships and other vessels that potentially were exposed to Agent Orange herbicides during the Vietnam War, according to the Fleet Reserve Association.
Navy and Coast Guard veterans who served when the vessels were in Vietnam's rivers and coastal waters might be eligible for compensation for health conditions linked to these dioxin-laden defoliants, according to a news release this week from the association .
"If you or someone you know served aboard any of these vessels during the times indicated, a VA claim for exposure to an herbicide agent should be filed as soon as possible," the release said.
The Fleet Reserve Association is trying to reverse the VA's policy that prevents so-called "blue water" military retirees and veterans who served off shore in the Vietnam War from claiming disability benefits for diseases related to exposure to Agent Orange.
The release quoted Chris Slawinski, the association's national veterans service officer: "Thousands of Navy and Coast Guard veterans who served aboard ships during the Vietnam conflict experience health problems related to herbicide exposure, but their illnesses and disabilities are not automatically considered service-connected in the eyes of the VA."
"Each addition to the VA's list of exposed vessels will make it easier for these veterans to prove exposure and will hopefully facilitate more timely determination of benefits."
The list includes Navy landing craft, river patrol boats, harbor utility craft and Coast Guard cutters with certain designations for patrol boats, buoy tenders and cargo vessels. In all, there are 180 ships, vessels, gunboats and tankers on the list, which can be viewed at www.fra.org/agentorange.
Contact reporter Keith Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0308.