The Department of Justice will drop its appeal of a federal court decision awarding disability benefits to tens of thousands of veterans who claim exposure to cancer-
causing chemical defoliants while serving in the seas near Vietnam, handing advocates what appears to be a final legal victory. In a filing with the Supreme Court, Justice
Department officials said they will not argue for overturning the case which undid years of VA policy denying benefits to about 90,000 “blue water” Navy veterans.
Congressional Budget Office officials had estimated awarding the benefits to the blue water veterans could total about $1.1 billion over 10 years, but VA officials in the past have estimated the total could rise to more than $5.5 billion. Justice lawyers had twice asked for extensions to file an appeal, even as VA officials publicly said they believed the lower court decision should stand. Congressional leaders and outside advocates had also argued against an appeal.
House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano, D-CA and ranking member Phil Roe, R-TN said they were “encouraged by DOJ’s decision not to appeal and further delay benefits to our Blue Water Navy veterans.” At issue is a VA decision in the past to treat the sailors’ disability benefit claims differently from other troops who served in Vietnam.
Full article, HERE at Military.com
This has been a LONG time coming… 50 years basically… I remember the fight one of my shipmates went through. He was a brown water sailor in Swift Boats 1966-67, and had been exposed to Agent Orange. He fought for years to get care, and was denied time after time. Ken died in 2009, and two weeks later his wife got a letter from the VA FINALLY approving his Agent Orange claims and disability…