Veterans who served in Vietnam during the war who have illnesses that are presumed to be caused by exposure to the killer herbicide, Agent Orange, do not have to prove it to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  Just walking on the poisoned Vietnamese ground or patrolling the inland waterways in boats is enough to claim service-connected disability compensation.  However, there are exceptions.

For those Vietnam veterans who were stationed on ships that were off the shore of Vietnam – Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans – claiming that Agent Orange exposure caused illness will require proof.  This is because a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) could not find enough conclusive information to support whether or not these veterans could have been exposed to Agent Orange.

What this means to Blue Water Vietnam Veterans is that their disability claims will be reviewed on a case by case basis and evidence of exposure to Agent Orange will be needed to support the claim. The only exception to the usual pathway to VA disability compensation is if the veteran has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The ruling, however, should not stop Blue Water Vietnam Veterans from going after the disability compensation they deserve. Alpha’s veterans disability advocates stand ready to help.


 The Department of Veterans Affairs has published an alphabetical list of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships associated with military service in Vietnam. Veterans who served aboard these ships  may have been exposed to Agent Orange.

Note: All representation coordinated by Alpha is provided by our employees, the Advocates, who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). No private organization that trains and employs accredited agents has been legally recognized by the VA for the purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims. This work must be done by the Advocates themselves and not organizations.