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brown-water-vets-graphic-man-yelling (“Brown water” means service in the rivers and delta areas of Vietnam) Even though elder law attorneys are primarily focused on nursing home benefits for wartime veterans who may be eligible for “Aid and Attendance” (a long term care benefit which helps to pay for in-home care, assisted living care, and nursing home care), we are also keenly interested in veteran’s benefits for Vietnam-era veterans.  This post has important information that should be forwarded to anyone who served in Vietnam during the Vietnam Conflict. One of the ongoing scandals of our country is our failure to fairly compensate Vietnam war era veterans who were exposed to the poison called dioxin that was in the herbicide referred to as “Agent Orange” (AO).  Many vets have been denied legitimate claims when trying to receive disability compensation for delayed diseases due to their exposure to AO.  Agent Orange is still killing Vietnam veterans from all of our service branches. We belong to an organization called the Veteran’s Advocates Group of America (VAGA), which provides educational materials and communication for those who are concerned about VA issues.  It was reported to us last week by Karen McIntyre, president of VAGA, that  the VA has just announced that veterans serving on certain ships in the waters of Vietnam during the Vietnam Conflict are now eligible for Agent Orange presumptive service compensation benefits.  This also opens the door for surviving spouses, dependent children, and dependent parents who may possibly get death benefits due to the death of their Vietnam veteran spouse, parent, or child. This decision to compensate “brown water” Vietnam veterans opens the door for VA health insurance as well.  In the past, an Agent Orange claimant had to prove that he/she was a veteran who had “boots on the ground” in Vietnam before the VA would award service-connected compensation.  But this recent “brown water” ruling finally opens the door for many of these deserving veterans and their dependents to get much-needed benefits as well. It’s important to remember that there are many who served in Vietnam who have already died as a result of an Agent Orange condition—so it is not too late for survivor spouses or dependents to file for benefits. I have attached a .pdf document at the bottom of this post (entitled “BrownWaterClaims”), which you can click on and download for information about Vietnam naval ships which worked in the inland waterways known as the “brown water” rivers and delta areas of Vietnam.  This is a  huge step forward for many of our veterans who were serving on “blue water” naval vessels but who also conducted operations in “brown water.”  Individuals who served on these ships may be presumed to have had exposure to Agent Orange and its deadly herbicide called dioxin.  Please forward this communication to all Vietnam war veterans and/or surviving spouses. This expansion of coverage still leaves our “blue water” servicemen and women who served on naval ships at sea without adequate compensation.  Despite the fact that it is now well known that Agent Orange was toxic to anyone who handled it, the federal government and the VA have continued to deny full coverage to many of our servicemen/women.  The next big step is for our government to admit that anyone serving in the Vietnam theater of operations may well have been poisoned by Agent Orange.  Nonetheless, let’s celebrate this victory and the extension of benefits to “brown water Vietnam veterans.”   Hooray! BrownWaterClaims

vietnam-vetfallen-soldierboots-on-the-ground-in-vietnam A substance known as Agent Orange (AO) is still killing Vietnam veterans after all these years.  If you know and love a Vietnam War veteran, this post has important information that should be forwarded to everyone who “had boots on the ground” in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. In June I was speaking in Atlanta at the “Advanced VA Benefits Course.”  Because of my concentration in the area of elder law, I was able to unveil some of the secrets about a special VA benefit to pay long term care expenses.  Benefits may be available for the over-65 wartime veteran and/or spouse of a veteran who is burdened with long term care costs due to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other age-related long term disabilities.  This benefit helps pay for home care, assisted living facility care, and nursing home care. After my speech, I eagerly awaited the next presenter, Karen McIntyre, a nationally known VA-accredited agent.  Her topic was “Presumptive Diseases Linked to Agent Orange Exposure.”  For me, that is one hot topic.  Within the last twelve months I have served two Vietnam vet clients who have died of cancers which they felt were caused by their wartime service.  Unfortunately for them and their surviving spouses, the Veterans Administration had rejected the benefit claims that they had submitted through a Veterans Service Organization (VSO). Agent Orange was an herbicide which was liberally sprayed all over Vietnam to defoliate the tropical forest.  It was believed that defoliation was necessary so that enemy troops infiltrating from North Vietnam would be more visible from the air.  Unfortunately for our servicemen, servicewomen, and the civilian Vietnamese population, our government chose to buy the “cheap stuff” which was filled with dioxins. I asked Wayne Tomlinson, an expert in agrichemicals, to explain Agent Orange to me.  He responded, “Actually, Agent Orange is very similar to some commonly used agricultural herbicides and  brush killers known as 2,4,D and 2,4,5,T.  In its proper form it is harmless to humans. I have been totally immersed in both 2,4,D and 2,4,5,T and it has never caused me any harm.  These chemicals been used extensively within the United States on roadsides, pastures, and parks.  Within the United States the dioxins have been removed from the final product. Unfortunately, I guess that when some government purchasing agent asked for the lowest price bid for this substance to be delivered as a weapon of war, they did not specify that it needed to be dioxin-free.” Due to the presence of dioxins and the passage of almost 40 years, there are now many diseases that have now been conclusively linked to AO exposure.  When contracted by a Vietnam War veteran, they are now presumed to have been caused by AO.  A Vietnam vet must prove that he or she “had boots on the ground” in Vietnam to receive these medical and monetary benefits.  The benefits can be of assistance to both the veteran and the surviving spouse.  The list of diseases is scattered throughout the official government documents and the VA regulations.  I have consolidated a list of diseases which are presumed to have been caused by Agent Orange exposure.  Click here to find this information: vietnam-vet-conditions-list If you need to find an attorney to assist a veteran please click here.  In addition, Veterans Service Organizations are available to assist you. P.S.  Many of our Marines and Special Forces units did have “boots on the ground” in Vietnam, but their service record shows they were stationed outside of Vietnam on ships or in other countries.  The veteran can prove his or her presence in Vietnam by supplying an affidavit from a fellow service person.  This is called a “Buddy Statement.”