Senate Passes Blue Water Navy Bill, Cementing Victory for Ill Vietnam Veterans
By Patricia Kime
13 Jun 2019
"If they get their claim in, it may be grandfathered," Wells said. "If you were on a ship, especially a carrier that served on the fringe of the territorial sea, it's imperative that they get their claim in now."
The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Intrepid (CVS-11) steams in the South China Sea on Sept. 13, 1966, with aircraft of Attack Carrier Air Wing 10 (CVW-10) parked on the flight deck. CVW-10 was assigned to the Intrepid for a deployment to Vietnam from April 4 to Nov. 21, 1966. V.O. McColley/Navy
The Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday to extend disability benefits to veterans who served on Navy ships off the coast of Vietnam, signaling the end of a decades-long fight for these former sailors and Marines to receive compensation for diseases presumed to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange and other defoliants used during the Vietnam War.
Following similar approval by the House last month, the Senate vote sends the bill to President Donald Trump for his signature.
The legislation could affect up to 90,000 veterans, although Retired Navy Cmdr. John Wells, an attorney with Military Veterans Advocacy who represented Alfred Procopio Jr., the plaintiff in the case decided in January, said the way the bill is written may limit awards, excluding as many as 55,000 service members, including many assigned to aircraft carriers that operated farther out to sea.
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