Here are some key details from the Blue Water Navy Act that was just signed into law by the President.
Effective Date: The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2020.
VA’s Responsibility: Within 120 days, the Secretary of the VA is required to submit a report to the Senate and the House of Representatives detailing the Secretary’s plans “to conduct outreach” to Veterans concerning this new legislation and “to respond to inquiries from Veterans regarding claims for disability compensation” under these new statutory provisions.
Translation: Within 120 days, we will know what the VA’s “go forward plan” is regarding these disability compensation claims, including the unanswered questions of whether Nehmer rules will apply to these cases, how the VA intends to prioritize these cases, etc., etc.
Definition of Offshore: A location is deemed to be “offshore of Vietnam” (and thus eligible for the presumption of Agent Orange exposure) if the location is within 12 nautical miles of the coast of Vietnam and Cambodia, along a line of demarcation intersecting the following points:
|“Points Geographic Names||Latitude North||Longitude East|
|At Hon Nhan Island, Tho Chu Archipelago Kien Giang Province||9°15.0′||103°27.0′|
|At Hon Da Island southeast of Hon Khoai Island Minh Hai Province||8°22.8′||104°52.4′|
|At Tai Lon Islet, Con Dao Islet in Con Dao-Vung Toa Special Sector||8°37.8′||106°37.5′|
|At Bong Lai Islet, Con Dao Islet||8°38.9′||106°40.3′|
|At Bay Canh Islet, Con Dao Islet||8°39.7′||106°42.1′|
|At Hon Hai Islet (Phu Qui group of islands) Thuan Hai Province||9°58.0′||109°5.0′|
|At Hon Doi Islet, Thuan Hai Province||12°39.0′||109°28.0′|
|At Dai Lanh point, Phu Khanh Province||12°53.8′||109°27.2′|
|At Ong Can Islet, Phu Khanh Province||13°54.0′||109°21.0′|
|At Ly Son Islet, Nghia Binh Province||15°23.1′||109° 9.0′|
|At Con Co Island, Binh Tri Thien Province||17°10.0′||107°20.6′|
Spina Bifida Cases: Under this law, benefits are now available for children diagnosed with spina bifida who had a parent who served at covered locations in Thailand (e.g., Royal Thai Air Bases in certain military occupational specialties) during the Vietnam War. (This coverage is already available for children diagnosed with spina bifida who had a parent who served in Vietnam and along the Demilitarized Zone [DMZ] in Korea).
New Starting Date For Korean DMZ Presumptions: The new law amends the starting date for the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange to apply to a Veteran who served along the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) from April 1, 1968, to September 1, 1967.
Obviously, there are still several unanswered questions — particularly focusing on the mechanics of how the VA is going to handle these cases — but we will have these answers in the VA’s report to Congress within 120 days.
Thank you, as always, for all of the work that you do for Veterans, Service Members, and their families every day.
Benjamin P. Pomerance
Deputy Director for Program Development
New York State Division of Veterans’ Services
2 Empire State Plaza, 17th Floor, Albany, NY 12223
Phone (518) 474-6114 | Fax (518) 473-0379 | firstname.lastname@example.org |