By MOAA Staff
Navy veterans who served in the waters off Vietnam may have won courtroom and legislative victories over the past several months, but they continue to wait for their earned benefits thanks to VA’s stay on claims until Jan. 1, 2020. And while MOAA fights to provide VA with the resources it needs to speed up that process, these veterans face another delay in a process that could expand their eligibility for medical care and other benefits.
A November 2018 study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found multiple medical conditions linked to Agent Orange that are not included on VA’s “presumptive diseases.” These include “sufficient evidence” of a link between Agent Orange and hypertension, per the report, as well as “limited or suggestive evidence” of a link between the defoliant and bladder cancer, hyporthyroidism, and Parkinson's-like symptoms (Parkinson's disease is already on the VA list).
A VA official told a Senate hearing in March that he expected a decision on adding these conditions to VA’s list within 90 days. That deadline has long since passed, and recent reports suggest no new timeframe is in place for the update.
The delays in updating the list and in processing Blue Water Navy veteran claims continue to frustrate veterans and advocacy groups that have worked for years pursuing these benefits via both lawsuits and legislation. Another legal fight is underway seeking to end VA’s stay on the claims, bipartisan efforts from lawmakers continue, and actions at the local level show veterans who’ve been affected by Agent Orange exposure have not been forgotten by their communities.
Add your voice to these efforts by helping MOAA push Congress to provide funds to the VA that would allow the department to expand staffing or update systems designed to speed these claims. Time is not a luxury afforded to many of these veterans, and delays on multiple fronts must be met head-on wherever possible. Contact your legislators here.