Two pro bono legal groups have teamed up to fight for veterans seeking disability compensation for disabilities linked to Agent Orange exposure in a new legal review.

For years, the Department of Veterans Affairs adjudication of Blue Water claims has been at odds with the plain language of Congress that veterans serving “in the Republic of Vietnam” should include territorial waters. Instead, VA limits its interpretation to exclude veterans who served in territorial waters but did not set foot on dry land.

The question about VA’s interpretation is now being challenged before the Federal Circuit in a sua sponte en banc review. The Court will consider whether VA has taking an improperly narrow position on the laws granting presumptive service connection related to Agent Orange exposure.

According to a press release from Military Veterans Advocacy:

Orrick Pro Bono Team Partners With Military Veterans Advocacy To Seek Justice For Disabled Vietnam Veterans

An Orrick pro bono team has partnered with non-profit Military Veterans Advocacy to pursue review before the en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit of a longstanding and unlawful policy that denies many disabled Vietnam veterans the statutory rights to which they are entitled. MVA, led by Executive Director and retired Navy Commander John B. Wells, has been working tirelessly to change this policy in the courts and in Congress for over a decade. Last month, the Federal Circuit granted sua sponte en banc review to consider whether the approach taken by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is contrary to the plain language of the statute that protects Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and now suffer from disabilities as a result. A hearing is set for Dec. 7.

The issue the Court will consider involves “Blue Water” Navy vets, like appellant Alfred Procopio, Jr., who served on ships in Vietnam’s offshore waters but never entered the internal rivers or set foot on Vietnamese soil. For veterans who “served in the Republic of Vietnam,” Congress affords a presumption of exposure to Agent Orange and of service-connection for a number of disabilities known to be linked to the toxic chemicals contained in that herbicide. But since 2002, the VA has denied this presumption to Blue Water Navy veterans unless they put “boots on the ground” during their service in Vietnam. This rule is at odds with a wealth of evidence confirming that veterans serving on ships in the territorial waters were exposed to Agent Orange and suffer from its effects to this day. The en banc Federal Circuit will now consider whether it is also at odds with Congress’s decree that the presumption should be available to all who served “in the Republic of Vietnam,” including its territorial waters. This question is critical to tens of thousands of veterans who faithfully served their country but who now find themselves on the short end of a crabbed and formalistic government view.

The Orrick team representing Mr. Procopio in the case is led by appellate partner Mel Bostwick and also includes Tom Bondy, Matt Shahabian, and Robbie Manhas. The team will be joined in the en banc effort by Cdr. Wells of Military Veterans Advocacy.

Media contacts:

MVA: John Wells, 985-290-6940 or [email protected]; James Hartman, 504-458-4600 or [email protected]

Orrick: Howard Mintz, [email protected] .

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40 Comments

  1. Ben,
    I’m glad you brought this up today. Because, yesterday – at the “confirmation hearing of Judge Kavanaugh” – Sen. Sasse discussed this exact issue.
    To explain what he said would take time. So, to expedite the process, please google;

    “Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Ne) unloads on Congress at Kavanaugh Hearing”

    From: “Fox News” (11:51 min long)

    • What Sen. Sasse stated was “…Congress, for the past 100 years…” – and “… especially for the past 35 years…” has deferred their incompetent behavior of “…allowing the…” alphabet soup agencies to regulate and make laws. Basically, to allow the government agencies to implement their own rules, laws and regulations! A violation of the Constitution and making the Legislative Branch inconsequential!
      He went further by saying “…it’s the responsibility of Congress NOT to give the Executive Branch complete authority to make laws!” That “…it is only for the legislative Branch to make laws!” Then, it’s up to the Executive Branch to either sign the bill into law, or veto it. At which time, if vetoed, to go back to the Legislative Branch for a two/thirds vote!

      *******************************************

      Now, we on this site and other vet centric websites have seen first hand the ILLEGAL activities by the VA. They, along with the most corrupt union in America, have been trying to do whatever it takes to pad their pockets with as much of the Taxpayers monies as they can!

    • What about ft mcclellan and all the mps that suffered at the chemical companies around ft mcclellan and the chemical school

  2. I personally think Veterans wanting any progress on their agent orange exposure to refile and jump on the bandwagon of the California groundskeeper that won hundreds of million$ from Monsanto for exposure to same chemicals under name Round-up.
    File as a Veteran that was a groundskeeper in Vietnam once the defoliant chemicals were dropped, because the VA is *never ever* going to follow the damn law, let alone science…unless it benefits the legion of AFGE.

  3. Now, we on this site and other vet centric websites have seen first hand the ILLEGAL activities by the VA. They, along with the most corrupt union in America, have been trying to do whatever it takes to pad their pockets with as much of the Taxpayers monies as they can!
    the truth will set you free its nice to see Im not the only one they are screwing over apparently everyone is getting screwed.

    • Welcome to the jungle, norman rosencrans.

      Have you had a chance to google the utube video from Fox News to understand my comment?

  4. Blue water navy, huh? Why is there so much interest (ie money) to do battle for vets, who never got within 50 miles of Vietnam? And, zero interest in helping the Agent Orange Spina Bifida kids most of whose fathers were combat vets. VA has never screwed any group as badly as they screw these children of Vietnam combat vets. Yet, all the sympathy and help goes to these guys who joined the Navy specifically to avoid Vietnam service. That is a group, in which I do not include my high school buddy James Myers, who was killed in action on a Navy river boat. I am talking about the guys, who never got within sight of Vietnam, which is who this is about. And, maybe the worst of it, is that they make legitimate war vets look bad with this crap.

    • Hold your horses, Mr. Nesler, My husband is a Blue Water veteran who served on a destroyer and did 2 WestPac tours. He was a few miles off shore providing NGFS (Naval Gun Fire Support) for our troops on land. Not only did he participate in NGFS they also performed linebacker raids in HaiPhong Harbor. Yes he saw combat. Yes, he saw Vietnam. He has Parkinson’s, neuropathy, and diabetes. No this is about, contrary to your belief, sailors like my husband who served their country and the VA took away benefits sanctioned by Congress. In which branch did you serve?

      • 8 years Regular Army with 15 months in an arty firing battery in Vietnam. My younger brother was in an infantry platoon during the same time period I was in Vietnam. I am entitled to an opinion, thanks

    • My dad died at 60 from agent Orange even though I don’t have spina bifida I had 3 back surgeries at 30, my dad was sure it was because of his exposure to A.O. I believe our government killed my father!

    • Mr Nadler, you are ignorant to the fact that us Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans were not even close to Vietnam. I have proof that you are dead wrong. And we did not join the Navy to avoid Vietnam. I for one was drafted into the Navy. Contact me and I will provide proof and the you can make a public apology on here for your ignorance. Do you work for the VA? What branch did you serve in and when. I would like to see your proof.

      • Mr. Faietta Ron Nesler is mentioned in the following article. You may remember the billboards he put up all over the country right outside of VA Hospitals, which said “VA is Lying”, “Veterans are Dying”. There is a lot more that he has done for all Veterans perhaps you should google his name.

        ‘Controversial’ Billboard Coming To Minneapolis
        By Benjamin Krause –
        August 25, 2015

        “Vietnam veteran and activist Ronald Nesler is fighting back against harassment from the Federal government in a big way that is about to turn up in Minneapolis next. Nesler is founder of the fastest growing veteran-centric Facebook group VA is Lying, and he promises to put a dent in VA corruption by putting up what some consider to be “controversial” billboards across America.

        The group’s sole purpose is to root out unethical VA employee behavior that has harmed and even killed veterans nationwide. And the message is resonating well among many veteran advocacy circles as evidenced by the groups growing popularity.”

        The full article can be found at: “https://www.disabledveterans.org/2015/08/25/controversial-billboard-coming-to-minneapolis/”

        ______________________

        Although Ron has definitely earned the respect of all Veterans by his work for all Veterans in the past. I do agree that he is wearing an Ass Hat today by disrespecting many Veterans with his comments here today.

        Ron sorry to hear about the change in the Agent Orange Spina Bifida actions at the VA. I know that has a major impact in your life.

  5. This is the same shit we went through to establish service connection to Dixon (Agent Orange) We had meetings with the VA the VSO’s, The Navy The CDC and finally the senate. It’s a neverending scam!

      • Rod. Socialized medicine experimentation in part began with the mighty VA/Gov. How many times has the US Gov used troops to the insane and kids for test rats? Why are they using collective punishments on some and not others? So did the drug testing and other “experimentation/practices,” start from the VA levels then out to the civies it worked and was swallowed so well. Like with pain meds and other things or treatments that worked. They knew what AO would do wherever they sprayed that shit , using Napalm on top of that carrying it off and all around. Just like they knew about nuke radiation from the start, but when testing it in Nevada claimed “oh we weren’t aware of any far spread radiation in the early years.” BS.

        So if by some miracle they ‘fix’ the issue with vets but it’s okay to use that and more on the civilian pop?

        Farmers, cities, parks, RRs, lawn care, etc., are using Round-up and the like for weed killer, or defoliating agents. Just using sprays for mosquitoes and only them alone not harmful to other bugs?? Understand? Piss on veteran’s complaints and issues.. too, since they didn’t learn or care for years and now use it on civilians, kids, in bark-parks (that will surely cause an uproar), workers, the population??! You think rock dust from train tracks just lay back down and settle like good little saturated particles? Rock dust plus chemical agents, plus, wind/weather/run-off does what? In urban or concentrated populations. Are we just supposed to limit concerns and issues to ourselves and allow others in the grand flushed USA suffer the same as many veterans? You don’t see many of the elite down in the community park stirring up dirt or playing the local parks with the serfs or allowing their toddlers to run barefoot in lawn care products and dog poop.

        Hell, there are those out there that still have the stuff… like Chlordane and seen it sprayed in now defunct Legion posts, and more. Just the smell makes me gag with migraines. I guess that’s okay too since the main idiot having garage full of that was a X cop, X politician, council people, above the law local Democrat, to one allowing non-vet lawyers and others vote in our election processes.

        Hmmm, so we are not to consider others or look at all the consequences down the road over anything. Ignoring issues and caring to pass some evils along to others or future generations isn’t exactly in my DNA or personal constitution.

  6. Ummm…people joined the navy to “escape” Viet Man duty????? Where the hell is this but wipe coming from???????!!!!! First of all, if you would remove your head from your anal sphincter, these guys enlisted ….and it was a 4 year active/2 year inactive so it was 6 years waiting to get their discharge papers. My husband served on the USA Ranger up in Dixie Station. His first 4 weeks had him stationed at Da Nang airbase because the Cong were shelling the base and they couldn’t get the COD out. Now think about where the dioxin was being used. The area of the Mekong Delta and eastward. Cows eat and forage on plants covered with that crap. The milk they produce has the dioxin in it. Rains wash the dioxin into the streams and the Mekong River. That major river empties into the Tonkin Gulf. And where does go then? The navy yard deadlines that water which removes the salt and INTENSIFIES the toxin. From that desal plant on ship, that toxin loaded water is used by the ship for cooking, reconstructing eggs, milk, c!eaning, showers, and yes, even the coffee!!!! Ranger still holds the naval record for being at battle stations the longest – 45 days!! 8 hours on, 8 hours off. My husband, a radioman, was with his unit this entire time. Since the off time meant waiting 3 hours waiting for chow line those guys were operating at is level….Once again very little sleep . So what do soldiers do to stay awake? They drink coffee, made out of dioxin loaded water. Guess what? He is now being treated (albeit poorly) by the VA for …..wait for it!….Agent Orange toxicity! Oh, that explains his very poor health for the past stinking 38 years. Yeah, right. So shut up and stop displaying your ignorane….you know nothing of what you speak! Butt wipe.

    • The butt wile you referred to likely was instrumental in forcing VA into the corner about its deception, nepotism, and retribution during this last presidential cycle and has had enormous influence in how America now more correctly perceives VA for being corrupt.

      I neither agree nor disagree with the matter because I was not there. However I would not so casually toss aside observstions from people who were and who have also established nationwide credibility like this guy.

    • Dam 45 days on station with 8 on and 8 off? Hell Lady that would have been considered R&R in the Big Red One ,,Loved the Cow stories ,where were these cows located? I don’t recall seeing a single Milk Cow pooping poison in the jungle.

      7

  7. Pardon my spelling…auto correct. Hate it! The really weird word is supposed to read “desalini ization plant”. and it was
    Yankee station. So butt wipe, my hubby received a meritorious unit commendation medal! What did YOU ever do over there? Did you even go? You insult all those men who enlisted rather than make a “run for the border” or who did their duty with honor. God bless the USA and our amazing soldiers, whether Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines!?

    • Thanks and godspeed to your husband for his service and sacrifice in fighting this toxic monster called the VA.

      1st Cav division combat veteran
      OIF 08-09
      Injured in action

      Smell that burn pit smoke nice and deep
      Feel those shells fall and creep
      Denied all the help and care
      Try to sleep and only stare

    • Sharon, thanks, you saved me a long rant on a bad day. I think some people are spreading their activist lives too thin and lost some facts/info about some issues, and ignoring what they are living in really close to home too but ignore it all to save some cliques, lifestyles, or play politics. Most don’t really understand cross contamination, bringing contaminants home from work.. asbestos, chemicals, all sorts of dust, dust from farm land, industry, lawn chemicals, blah blah. Also back to some not giving a damn about others issues which is really a huge issue alone. Indiana is having huge issues over many things like dealing with HEP A merely cause lazy ass people, dirty butt foreigners to some vets can’t or won’t simply wash their damn hands. Then our state officials and feds allow our “allies” to come here and use our land for testing Frankenfoods, GMOs, and have already ruined lives, farm ground, aquifers, due to it all.

      Fifty miles ain’t nothing, five hundred miles is nothing when it comes to exposure to a countless array of contaminants/harms and by many means. Burn pit, AO, depleted uranium, nuke testing on and around the grand ole USA. Nuke fire in dump pits still burning in the South. How far just DU spreads alone in the jet streams for thousands of miles. Reports by those of the likes of Helen Caldicot and others trying to warn the government about contaminants in the Jet Streams but that wasn’t taken seriously either, or swept under the carpet by the MSM and Gov.

      Coming from an old union safety and health officer trying to discuss such issues with others or a group is like talking to a brick…(like hand washing) until things hit close to home for them. It’s all about them and the now, not of the kids or consequences on down the road. Then it’s a bit too late.

  8. Looking for anyone who served at Camp Vayama, Sattihip, Thailand, around 1969. Need a buddy to verify for me of our Agent Orange exposure. Thank you in advance.

    • Don: I was in Thailand 70-73 with the USAF Advisory Group. We were co-located with the Royal Thai Air Force at RTAF Headquarters on Don Muang RTAFB. I could look out my office window and and see members of the Penal Battalion (Thai AF prisoners who violated the RTAF rules) doing rock breaking and base beautifucation as they served their sentences. They were using back sprayers. Got curious and asked one day. Yep, they were using Agent Orange FULL STRENGTH. I still shudder to think of it. No wonder it look so nice. Since these poor soles were responsible for all of the policing duties theey may have done their “shit” duties on the civilian part of the base also.
      The Old Sarge

  9. Ron Nesler, you need to read the history of the US Navy in Vietnam. Then you would read of the number of Naval personnel who were killed doing their duties in the Vietnam War. And you would read just how close to shore the ships that provided NGFS missions were during the missions. And that some of the Riverine forces were stationed on ships. As for me, I was on the USS Oklahoma City CLG5 that sailed up the Saigon River, Moored to a pier in Saigon for 3 days, took part in the evacuation of Saigon, and received fire from the enemy forces that inflicted damage to the ship. The ship certainly wasn’t 50 miles from the coast of Vietnam for these events to happen. Furthermore, during the NGFS missions, many enemy targets and troops were destroyed–no doubt saving the lives of troops on the ground. Check out the history. of the battleship New Jersey, and perhaps you will become more appreciative of the Blue Water Navy. And Yes, I was exposed to Agent Orange and have 5 associated diseases to prove it.

  10. My ship, the heavy cruiser USS Newport News CA-148, spent months in Danang harbor providing NGFS to ground forces. As we were considered a “high value target”, we were not allowed to tie up to the pier, but simply circled the harbor in a racetrack pattern. The VA does not consider Danang Harbor to be an inland waterway, consequently, we are “Blue Water” vets, and ineligible for any Agent Orange compensation.
    The AF stored AO at Danang and there are records of leaks into the harbor as well as AO dumping by AF planes returning to base. Today Danang Harbor still has significant levels of AO. As to the gentleman’s claim that we joined the USN to avoid injury, please apologize to the 20 shipmates who lost their lives when a turret exploded. Prior to the Paris Peace Talks, we raided North Viet Nam three times per day and were in combat with NVA artillery on 17 occasions. We wear the Navy Unit Commendation proudly!

  11. My husband had to become a US citizen to enlist in the Navy. He did not join the Navy to avoid going to Vietnam. He was 2 tours in Vietnam on Yankee Station. He went from working full time with no symptoms to sitting in a wheelchair unable to button a shirt in 30 days. A letter came for an Agent Orange Registry exam. We knew nothing about Agent Orange until he went to the exam. He has had 11 surgeries and spent 5-1/2 months in a 13 month period in hospitals and rehabs. If he died when he went into cardiac arrest, I never would have known. No one else in his family is sick with the diseases he has.

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