(Photo by Chief Boatswain’s Mate Nelson Doromal Jr/U.S. Navy)

House approves benefits for Blue Water Navy veterans

June 26, 2018 - 6:37 am

In a rare show of true bipartisanship, the House voted 382-0 to reinstate the health benefits of so-called "Blue Water Navy Vets." Around 90,000 sailors served in blue water during the Vietnam war, and some were exposed to Agent Orange, the dioxin herbicide known to cause multiple forms of cancer, among other health issues.

A VA policy decision in 2002 stripped Blue Water Navy Veterans of their eligibility for Agent Orange benefits, unless they could prove they set foot in Vietnam. “Every day, thousands of brave veterans who served in the Vietnam War fight the health effects of Agent Orange exposure,” said Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., the bill’s lead sponsor, on the floor of the House yesterday. “It is far past time we pass this critical legislation and give them the comfort and care they deserve.”

The bill extends the benefits for ten years, and would cost $1.1 billion, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. To find this money, fees for VA home loans are being slightly increased. The bill now heads to the Senate for confirmation, though it is not known when this will happen.