The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington DC has ruled in favor of Agent Orange/Blue Water Navy veterans in Procopio vs. Wilkie (No. 15-4082). The petitioner argued on behalf of Blue Water Veterans saying that Navy veteran, Mr. Procopio, who never stepped foot on land in Vietnam, was exposed to Agent Orange during his military service off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam. Due to this exposure, he developed medical conditions consistent with other veterans who served on land and were exposed to Agent Orange. Therefore, he should be entitled to a presumptive category and thereby eligible for benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) defended their position saying that according to current law and science there is not enough evidence to connect Procopio’s ailments to his exposure and thereby justify giving this Blue Water veteran presumptive coverage. Both sides argued Congressional intent when it enacted the Agent Orange Act of 1991. It is still unclear if the VA will appeal or address these issues in the Gray v. Wilkie case scheduled to be heard by The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on February 25, 2019. That case will decide if the VA considered service in Vietnam as service on its land-mass or in its inland waterways, but not open deep-water coastal ports and harbors, is arbitrary and capricious. Please pray for our Blue Water Veterans that they finally after 20 years get the benefits to which they are entitled. For more information, contact Sandra at the Veterans Service Office at 602 Strong Ave on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 3pm, or call 365-3612.
Sandra G. Van Zant
Veterans County Service Officer