The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released a list Friday of Navy and Coast Guard vessels presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The listing is intended to make it easier for veterans suffering from one of 14 different ailments to get the compensation they deserve.
“Posting of the ships list is an important recognition of the sacrifices U.S. Navy and Coast Guard veterans made for this Nation,” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said in a statement. “It provides an easier path for veterans who served in Vietnam to get the benefits and services they are entitled to under the law.”
The agency presumes that any veteran who served in-country or on its inland waterways between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, was exposed to herbicides. Veterans do not need to prove they were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides to qualify for disability compensation. The same rule applies to Korean War veterans who served in or near the demilitarized zone from April 1, 1968, to Aug. 31, 1971.
It does not apply to blue water veterans who served on ships that did not navigate the country’s inland waterways, or who did not set foot in Vietnam, unless the veteran suffers from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The 14 qualifying maladies are acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy, AL amyloidosis, chloracne, chronic B-cell leukemia, Type-2 diabetes mellitus, Hodgkin’s disease, ischemic heart disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, porphyria cutanea tarda, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers and soft tissue sarcoma.
Qualifying vessels are ships or boats that were part of the Mobile Riverine Force, Inshore Fire Support (ISF) Division 93, or which had one of the following designations: LCM (Landing Craft, Mechanized), LCU (Landing Craft, Utility), LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel), LST (Landing Ship, Tank), PBR (Patrol Boat, River), PCF (Patrol Craft, Fast or Swift Boat), PG (Patrol Gunboat), WAK (Cargo Vessel), WHEC (High Endurance Cutter), WLB (Buoy Tender), WPB (Patrol Boat) or YFU (Harbor Utility Craft).
An alphabetized list of the vessels is available here.