Vets to get Agent Orange benefits

To the editor,

Blue Water Navy veterans who served in Vietnam are now entitled to a presumption of service for conditions related to Agent Orange exposure. This is a result of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. Signed into law June 25, the law takes effect Jan, 1, 2020.

The law states that Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard veterans aboard a vessel operating not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia between Jan. 9, 1962 - May 7, 1975 are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides such as Agent Orange and may be entitled to service connection for conditions related to that exposure.

To be entitled for disability compensation, veterans must have one or more of the conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure.

The surviving spouse of a Blue Water Navy veteran may apply for survivor’s benefits if the veteran passed away from a condition related to Agent Orange.

It is recommended that all Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard veterans (and surviving spouses) who were previously classified as Blue Water Navy veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam contact their local County Veterans Service Officer for more information about the claims process.

The La Plata County Veterans Service Office provides information and assistance to veterans and their families so they can maximize their quality of life, well-being and potential. There is a wide range of benefits available. These services are free of charge. Please visit the La Plata County website at http://www.co.laplata.co.us/ for more info.

The La Plata County Veterans Service Office is co-located with the Durango VA Clinic at 1970 E. 3rd Ave., Suite 102. For appointments, call 970-247-2214. The Veterans Service Office phone number is 970-759-0117. Office hours are 8 a.m. – 12 noon and 1 p.m. - 5 p.m., Monday – Friday, except holidays.

– Richard Schleeter, La Plata County Veterans Services