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Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange Exposure
challenged by Blue Water Navy veterans, the VA position was upheld in the 2008 case of Haas v. Peake and stands today. Since 2008, the VA has, case by case, recognized numerous Blue Water Navy ships as having entered the inland waterways of Vietnam or having docked in Vietnam at specific times and locations. Navy personnel who served aboard those blue-water ships during the specific times when their ships were in inland waters or docked are now eligible for the presumption of service connection for Agent Orange–associated diseases.
Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans along with other Vietnam veterans have become concerned about their potential exposure to the TCDD contaminant present in Agent Orange. Recent publications, such as that of an Australian study of potential TCDD enrichment of potable water aboard Royal Australian Navy ships as a result of the water-distillation process, have prompted additional concerns regarding exposure of Blue Water Navy veterans to TCDD.
CHARGE TO THE COMMITTEE
The growing concern of Blue Water Navy veterans that they were exposed to Agent Orange during their service in the Vietnam War prompted the VA to task the IOM with establishing a committee to study whether the Vietnam veterans in the Blue Water Navy experienced exposures to herbicides and their contaminants comparable with those of the Brown Water Navy Vietnam veterans and those on the ground in Vietnam. The focus was to be on Agent Orange and TCDD exposures. The VA asked that the report include historical background on the Vietnam War, Agent Orange legislation, and the three veteran categories (ground troops, Brown Water Navy personnel, and Blue Water Navy personnel); a comparison of possible routes of exposure of Blue Water Navy veterans on ships and of ground troops in Vietnam, and the potential mechanisms of herbicide exposures (such as water exposure from contamination of potable water, air exposure from spray drift, and food and soil contamination); a comparison of the risks of long-term adverse health effects in ground troop veterans, Blue Water Navy veterans, and other "era" veterans who served during the Vietnam War at other locations in light of possible TCDD exposure; and a review of studies of Blue Water Navy veterans for adverse health effects (if there have been studies of that specific cohort of veterans).