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Veterans Claims Workshop Slated September 13
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The Stanislaus County Veterans Services Office is partnering with Congressman Josh Harder to host a Benefit Claims Workshop for Navy and Coast Guard Veterans of the Vietnam War as well as the surviving spouse of a Navy or Coast Guard Veteran who may be affected by the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. The event will be held Friday, Sept. 13 at 8 a.m.

HR 299 was passed unanimously by the US House of Representatives on May 14 and later by the US Senate on June 12. On June 25, 2019, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 was signed by the President and became law. This law expands the presumption herbicide exposure to Veterans of the US Navy and US Coast Guard who served on a vessel operating not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia. Previously this presumption was afforded only to Veterans who could prove that they served “boots on the ground” in Vietnam.

This event will begin with a welcome and informational presentation about the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 and an overview of what the rest of the day will look like. Immediately following the presentation, officials will begin one-on-one interviews with Veterans or their surviving dependents who wish to file a disability compensation claim with the Veterans Administration for disabilities presumed caused by their exposure to herbicides, such as Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam War. There will be a lunch break at 11 a.m., with Harder scheduled to be on hand at that time as a guest speaker.

Following the Congressman’s remarks, the one-on-one interviews will resume for benefit claims.

To be eligible for benefits, Veterans must have an illness the VA believes is caused by Agent Orange, which include: AL Amyloidosis, Chronic B-cell Leukemias, Chloracne, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Hodgkin’s Disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Parkinson’s Disease, Early-Onset Peripheral Neuropathy, Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, Prostate Cancer, Soft Tissue Sarcomas and Respiratory Cancers (lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus).

The Veterans must also have served aboard a U.S. military vessel that operated in the inland waterways of Vietnam, or served on a vessel not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia (as detailed in Public Law 116-23, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019).

Surviving spouses of Veterans who meet the above criteria may be eligible for Dependent Indemnity Compensation for the loss of their Veteran as a result of his or her exposure to herbicides in support of the war in Vietnam.

To help expedite the development of claims, Veterans and surviving spouses are encouraged to bring the following information if they have it: DD 214 or Report of Separation; list of diagnosed Agent Orange related conditions with supporting medical evidence; list of ships the Veteran served aboard in Vietnam; any previous VA decisions that denied service-connection for an Agent Orange related condition; marriage and/or death certificate if applicable.

In order to develop and submit as many claims as possible during this event, county officials will be limiting interviews to Blue Water Agent Orange claims only. The event begins at 8 a.m. with registration starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Stanislaus County Veterans Center, 3500 Coffee Road, Suite 15 in Modesto, Room 114-115. Coffee and doughnuts will be provided.

For assistance with any other VA Compensation or Pension Claims, visit the Stanislaus County Veterans Services Office during regular customer service hours, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.