ConnectingVets Radio - After decades of trying to win disability benefits from the VA, thousands of Blue Water Vietnam veterans and others potentially exposed to toxic Agent Orange may have to wait until next year for a chance to receive those benefits. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie has ordered a stay on Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans' claims until Jan. 1, 2020, according to a document obtained by Connecting Vets, effectively stalling the benefits many veterans thought they had finally gained with the passage of a recent bill.
The memorandum dated July 1 addressed to the VA undersecretary for benefits and the chairman of the VA's Board of Veterans' Appeals appears to be signed by Wilkie.
The VA did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
In the memo, Wilkie says the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, recently signed into law by President Donald Trump, "authorizes me to stay certain pending claims for benefits that may be affected by that Act until implementation of the statutory amendments Congress directed to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. I exercise that authority."
The Veterans Benefits Administration and Board of Veterans Appeals "are ordered to stay decisions regarding claims for disability compensation that are based on service in the offshore waters" of Vietnam beginning Jan. 9, 1962 and ending May 7, 1975, the memo reads.
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