Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Blue Water Navy Court Decision article from Military.com

Court Expands Coverage for Vietnam Vets

Military.com

By Terry Howell

August 22, 2006

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims has announced a landmark decision in the case of Haas v. Nicholson. This ruling could directly affect thousands of disabled Vietnam-era Navy veterans.

The Court's ruling states that Veterans Affairs requirement for “boots on the ground” as the definition of “service in the Republic of Vietnam” is unreasonable, and does not align with Congress's intent. In addition the law does not limit application of the presumption of service connection for herbicide exposure to those who set foot on the soil of the Republic of Vietnam. The Court cited that the law defines “service in the Republic of Vietnam” as including “service in the waters offshore, or service in other locations if the conditions of service involved duty or visitation in Vietnam.”

According to court documents the unclear nature of the policy was further demonstrated when Secretary Nicholson was asked to apply the regulatory interpretation in the case of a veteran who served in the waters off of Vietnam, in water where his feet did not touch the seabed, versus a veteran who was in the waters where he was able to touch the seabed, he responded that neither veteran would be entitled to the presumption because the regulatory definition is limited to those veterans “who set foot on land, if you will boots on ground, not touching the ocean floor.” When later asked if there was a difference between the case of a veteran who served on a vessel floating up a river - which, according to the Secretary's argument, could be miles wide - who never touched land within the Republic of Vietnam, and a veteran who served on a ship within 100 feet of the shoreline who never touched the land, the Secretary simply responded, without rationale, that the latter form of service would not warrant application of the presumption of service.

The Court's opinion further states that VA's regulation defining “service in the Republic of Vietnam” is ambiguous and that VA's interpretation of the regulatory term “service in the Republic of Vietnam,” allowing the application of the presumption of exposure to herbicides only to Vietnam-era veterans who set foot on land, is “inconsistent with longstanding agency views, plainly erroneous in light of legislative and regulatory history, and unreasonable, and must be SET ASIDE.”

Note: The Court also found that the VA changed the Adjudication Procedure Manual to exclude receipt of the Vietnam Service Medal (VSM) as a definition of “service in the Republic of Vietnam” in 2002. The Court's decision may force VA to rethink this policy change.
The elimination of the requirement for “boots on ground” will mean that Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans can now file claims based on service in the Republic of Vietnam including “service in the waters offshore.”

This decision may open the floodgates to millions of Vietnam-era disability claims. Navy Vietnam veterans are encouraged to contact their local Veterans Service Officer as soon as possible to determine if they are eligible to receive disability benefits based on this ruling.

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
-- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."
--President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

VVA Press Release on Lawsuit

Here is a press release from the VVA detailing the victory for Blue Water Navy Vets with Agent Orange claims from Vietnam Service:

Vietnam Veterans of America Applauds Recent Court Decision
In Favor of Service Members Who Served in the Offshore Waters of Vietnam

(Washington, D.C. ) – “Some of the inequities of the application of presumptive coverage for exposure to Agent Orange have finally been set aside,” said John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America. “We need to spread the word about this decision to all Navy veterans who served in the waters offshore of Vietnam and received the Vietnam Service Medal (VSM). This Court decision will allow for an untold number of veterans and their families to receive the compensation and health care they are entitled to, as well as other VA programs,” Rowan said.

On August 16, 2006, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims rendered a decision in the appeal of Haas v. Nicholson. In their 31-page decision, the Court determined the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been unlawfully denying presumptive disability compensation for exposure to Agent Orange (AO) for service members who served in the waters offshore of Vietnam and earned the VSM.

Numerous veterans who served in Vietnam have been able to qualify for presumptive disability compensation for exposure to AO. Unfortunately the application of presumptive coverage has resulted in many inequities for veterans and their families. An example of this can be seen in the VA’s denials of presumptive service connection to service members who served on boats and ships off the coast of Vietnam. Although these veterans earned and received the VSM, many have had their claims denied by VA for presumptive disability due to AO exposure because they did not step foot on the ground in Vietnam.“All veterans who served in the waters offshore need to speak with a service representative or service officer as soon as possible to see if they have a viable claim for compensation,” Rowan said. These veterans should also participate in the Agent Orange registry exam. I fully expect the VA will attempt to rescind and revise their interpretation of the law. If you have had a claim denied or have never filed, you must do so before the regulations change again in favor of the VA.”

Friday, August 18, 2006

Important News for Blue Water VN Vets!

The following arrived in my email a short time ago. This is the best thing to happen to Blue Water Vietnam Vets since coming home!

The message:

WHILE THIS MAY NOT APPLY TO MANY OF YOU, PLEASE PASS IT ON TO YOUR OWN LISTS, AS IT MAY HELP SOMEONE ELSE NOT IN THE LOOP

Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2006 15:54:34 -0400
Yesterday the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) made a ruling that all Veterans that served aboard U.S. Naval ships during the Vietnam War are eligible to claim Diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange/Dixon. If you have been denied Service Connection (SC) for any one of the 12 conditions associated with AO/D then you must re-file. If you are a vet who had his/her SC Comp pulled away from you that will be re-instated with retro. Whether or not those who filed claims and were denied is unclear at this time whether or not retro will apply? You MUST have a diagnoses from a Medical Doctor whether it be a Civilian or VA Doctor for the condition/s applied for. A list of conditions can be found by typing Agent Orange on your search engine. Click onto the sixth (6th link) listed. A picture of the C-123 "Patches" will be come up. Navigate through the web site. Get yourself somebody to represent you! DO NOT GO IT ALONE!!!!!!!!! I think VVA has the best people working for the benefit of Veterans, but there other Veteran Service Organizations out there. HuH? VFW, A. Legion, AmVets, Purple Heart, and quite a few others. To find a list of Vets Orginazition, (VSO) that are authorized to file claims for vets go to
www.va.gov/forms type in the number 21-22 That is the form that is used to appoint an Veterans Service Org to represent you scroll down to the second page and you'll find a list of organizations that can represent you. THERE IS NO CHARGE FOR THIS SERVICE!

Celebrate by sharpening up your claim, and refiling old claims!

Then you can celebrate a little. But wait for the money before you hold the big bash!

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
-- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."

--President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

“Let's Say Thanks”


In an email that arrived the other day, I received information that the Xerox Corporation has a website that will allow you to pick out a post card, then choose a message and give your name and hometown. Xerox will then print out the post card and send it to the troops overseas.

According to their website, they have already sent two million cards!

We wholeheartedly urge you to go to Xerox’s
Let’s Say Thanks website and send a couple of cards. The message options vary and you can even send your own message using the ‘other’ option.

There is no selling besides an unobtrusive Xerox logo, and there is no real exposure of personal data except your name and hometown.

Folks, this is the real deal, a genuine nice thing for the company to do, and a nice thing for you to do. Everybody wins, you, Xerox, and most of all, our troops overseas.

Please give it a shot today, and tomorrow, and the day after that…


VNVets

Copyright © 2006: VNVets; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Note from Veterans for Santorum


This just in from the Santorum Campaign:

Dear Veteran,

As you may have already heard, the Department of Veterans Affairs recently lost a computer containing sensitive and personal information of veterans. Immediately after being notified of this situation, Senator Santorum went right to work. Sen. Santorum is working to ensure that Pennsylvania's veterans personal information is being protected and will be safeguarded from further risk:

In his own words, Senator Santorum made it clear that this type of mistake is unacceptable.

"It has come to my attention that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its contractor, Unisys Corporation, are unable to locate a computer containing the ames, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and medical records of VA patients.

"I am absolutely appalled that another computer containing the personal information of veterans has gone missing. This is a major breach of security of not only the VA and its contracting entities, but also the Pennsylvania veterans affected. This is now the second time in less than three months that the VA has allowed such a severe breach of security to occur.

"Those responsible must be held accountable and the VA clearly needs to do a better job of overseeing its contracting entities. We must do everything in our power to protect those veterans whose information may have been compromised."

Senator Santorum has been a strong advocate for our veterans throughout his career. Growing up on the grounds of the Butler VA Medical Center, he has first-hand experience working with our veterans and he will continue to give Pennsylvania veterans the support they need for another six years.

Learn more about how Senator Rick Santorum is fighting for Pennsylvania's veterans at www.VeteransForSantorum.com.

Keep Up The Fight!

Bob Bozzuto

Deputy Coalitions Director Santorum 2006

P.S. Please send the link for this blog entry to every veteran you know so that they know Rick Santorum is fighting for all of Pennsylvania's veterans.

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Many thanks to Bob Bozzuto and all the good folks at Veterans for Santorum.com . We vets need all the help we can get from a careless Congress. Having someone who cares in the Senate should be helpful.

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
-- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."
--President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.