by Kristina Derro
The VA has recently agreed to review the cases of nearly 17,000 “Brown Water” Vietnam Era veterans who have claimed disabilities related to Agent Orange exposure. VA previously denied a number of these claims without properly determining whether they served in Vietnam’s inland waterways (“Brown Water”) or in other locations where they would have been exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides.
Many of these claims were held by VA while litigation was ongoing concerning “Blue Water” veterans and their exposure to herbicides, and were later denied. A review of these claims found that many of the so-called “Blue Water” veterans actually served in “Brown Water” or inland waters of Vietnam, and should have received the same presumptions of service-connection as those veterans who had “boots on the ground” in Vietnam. Unfortunately, their claims were denied by VA without looking up proper documentation to prove whether they actually served in “Brown Water”.
This recent agreement by VA allows certain veterans who were previously considered “Blue Water” veterans to have their claims reevaluated for evidence of “Brown Water” service, or evidence of service in other locations where VA acknowledges that herbicides may have been used.