Thursday, December 27, 2007

Important info on Comments about the VA's Proposed Manual Change

People who support the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association's efforts to obtain benefits for it's Veterans should have a clear understanding of the process involved with the making of comments on the DVA's proposed manual recission.

Recission does NOT mean revision.

What the DVA is proposing is simply to rescind the change they made to the M21 manual in 2002 that resulted in the stoppage of benefits for Blue Water Navy Veterans.

What we are seeing in the comments being made so far [about 245 of them], are comments chastising the DVA for attempting to make this change.

In fact, we WANT the DVA to make this modification. By removing the change they made in 2002, the manual will revert back to the policy that was in effect BEFORE the 2002 change. In other words, it will revert back to the policy of using receipt of the Vietnam Service Medal as a qualifier for becoming presumptively eligible for benefits under the Agent Orange Act of 1991.

This manual recission, if the DVA goes through with it, will put the policy in line with the courts decision if the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denies the appeal of the DVA, thereby upholding the decision of the lower court, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. In this case, Haas wins!

So the DVA, having already been chastised by the courts over issuing a manual change in 2002 without allowing a period of public comment [due process], is forced to make the recission, or removal of the change, and reinstitute the policy that was in effect before the change.

This, folks, means that at the very least, if Haas is upheld and the DVA's appeal is denied, there will be at least a window opened to Blue Water Navy Veterans to receive benefits for Agent Orange exposure, and depending on what else the Court says in its ruling, it may become a permanent window, barring the DVA from attempting to cut off benefits again.

So, what should you do?

I have filed a claim for AO benefits, and been denied. I have refiled that claim. I will make a comment that I am a Blue Water Navy Veteran of Vietnam who never set foot on the ground, and that I was denied benefits because of the incorrectly applied M21 Manual change in 2002. Therefore, I fully support the DVA's recission of the 2002 M21 Manual Change.

So, make your comments brief, explain your stake in the change, and that you support the recission of the 2002 M21 Manual change.

DO NOT re-write your claim in your comment. There is no need to put your personal history of exposure into the comment. Keep it simple.

I recommend that all of you support the DVA's manual change recission. At the very least some claims will get through.

Here is where you can view the proposal to rescind the old manual changes to coform with the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims decision in Haas vs. Nicholson. [CLICK HERE]. Once there you can view the document and also make your comment.

If you have not filed a claim, do so immediately. If you have and you were denied, file to re-open that claim, or, if you are withing the year's period of your denial, file an appeal based on the illegality of the 2002 manual change on which the DVA denied your claim!


"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

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  1. I submitted a claim to the VA based on my Blue Water Navy service off Vietnam. I suffer from both diabetes and have been treated (successfully it appears) for prostate cancer.
    The VA responded by telling me that my case was "on hold" pending the final outcome of Haas vs Nicholson; when I inquired months later, I was told the same thing; is there anything further I should do? Also, when do you think we will hear some outcome of the latest court hearings??

  2. I think there is nothing more you need to do until after the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit renders its decision in the Haas case. When that happens, if it is favorable to the Blue Water Navy Veterans, and if your claim is complete, you should hear that it is being processed and should get a decision soon. If it is not complete, you'll be asked to provide whatever they need. They may ask you to come to the nearest VA Medical facility for tests.

    Of course, if the decision favors the DVA, then you'll receive a rejection most likely.

    Iexpect the decision any time, though it may take until March or April, or even longer.

    The waiting is tough. Hang in there.


  3. Anonymous21:35

    Thanks for the clarification John (I'm guessing you are John right?). You made one comment though that is misleading. You said there were 245 comments posted in response to the DVA's rule change. That really got my attention because that's a pretty healthy response, so I went to the site to see what they had to say. Turns out those 245 entries on that site weren't all for our issue. Only 9 of them were comments in response to our rule change.The rest were notices posted for other subjects.
    Ray B.