Blue Water Navy And Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

VA often makes changes in their regulations that affect veterans.  Vietnam era veterans have experienced many of those changes.

For years, VA made it very difficult for veterans to prove their medical conditions that were caused by Agent Orange exposure.  Changes in VA’s regulations created presumptions so that veterans who served in Vietnam often did not have to prove actual exposure.  These presumptions also helped veterans show that Agent Orange caused certain medical conditions.

But, VA does not treat all Vietnam veterans equally.  VA divides Vietnam veterans into two groups.

  • Veterans who served “boots on the ground”
  • Veterans who served on ships

Senior man with laptop and letter in kitchen 1 Veterans who served “boots on the ground” benefits from the Agent Orange presumptions.  On the other hand, VA classifies veterans who served on ships into two basic types:

  • Brown water veterans
  • Blue water veterans

Brown water veterans generally receive the Agent Orange presumption.  Blue water veterans can sometimes receive the presumption, but there are special rules that may apply.

The rules that apply generally very depending upon which ship the veteran served.  VA also updates the ship list on occasion and moves ships from one category to another on the list.

What if I am a Blue Water Veteran with non-Hodgkins lymphoma?

VA has so many different regulations and rules that it can be difficult to keep up with all of them.  VA treats non-Hodgkins lymphoma differently that one Agent Orange diseases.  You may not be aware of this.

The regulation that specifically applies to Vietnam veterans with non-Hodgkins lymphoma is regulation 38 CFR 3.313.  This regulation applies to you if you a Blue Water veteran who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam during that conflict.

The regulation indicates that VA will  service connect your non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma if you develop it after your service.  This regulation applies to Blue Water veterans because it states that “service in Vietnam” includes, “service in the waters offshore, or service in other locations if the conditions of service involved duty or visitation in Vietnam.”

So, veterans usually classified as “Blue Water” should be able to get service connection from VA for non-Hodgkins lymphoma even if they did not go on shore.  The regulation specifically says “service in the waters offshore” or “service in other locations if the conditions of service involved duty or visitation in Vietnam”.

When do I have to serve to qualify under the 38 CFR3.313 regulation?

The regulation indicates that a veteran must serve “during the Vietnam era”.  The Agent Orange regulation defines the Vietnam era as January 9, 1962 to May 7, 1975.

Does this right to service-connection for non-Hodgkins lymphoma apply to all Vietnam veterans?

Maybe.  Blue Water Navy veterans who served “in the waters offshore” are definitely included.

Service in Vietnam is also definitely included.  VA includes Non-Hodgkins lymphoma on the list of conditions presumed to be caused by Agent Orange exposure.  So, veterans who served “boots on the ground” can qualify under that rule.

38 CFR 3.313 also states that “service in Vietnam” includes “service in other locations if the conditions of service involved duty or visitation in Vietnam”.  This specifies that veterans who served or visited Vietnam as a condition of their service are covered by the 38 CFR 3.313 regulation.

One interesting question is whether this regulation covers any veterans other than Blue Water veterans who are not otherwise covered by the Agent Orange presumption.   Laws normally do not duplicate and restate the same principle that is covered by another law.

Veteran receiving cancer treatment Another part of VA’s regulations already establishes that Vietnam veterans who served “boots on the ground” can qualify for the Agent Orange presumption for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  So, why would VA essentially state the same thing again in 38 CFR 3.313?

There does not really seem to be a reason to include this.  This may provide an argument that this regulation potentially covers some veterans who served in the Vietnam era and visited Vietnam that are not Blue Water, Brown Water, or “boots on the ground”.

What should I do if I have a non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosis and believe that I qualify for benefits under this regulation?

You should file your claim for VA disability benefits.  Applying for benefits generally protects your right to benefits.

Some veterans lose potential benefits they should receive because they do not file early enough.  This article explains more about when and how to file your claim.

What will happen after I file my claim?

If this regulation applies to you, you should receive service connection from VA for your non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosis.  But, VA often does not get things right.

They may deny your claim.  If they do, you may need to file an appeal to receive the benefits you should.

If you have any questions or need help with an appeal, please feel free to reach out to us.  We provide free consultations to veterans in veterans disability claims.  This consultation helps you get your questions answered.

This article explains more about how a free veterans disability consultation works.  If you would like to set one up, just call us at (770) 214-8885 or complete and submit the consultation request form on this page.

Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

Rita BarnesRita Barnes
00:03 20 Jan 22
This is a great group of people who really care about your well being. They all treated me as though I was family and helped me with my work comp case in more ways than the average would have.Thank you Jason and Thank you Tina! For doing an awesome job.
Cortex ButlerCortex Butler
18:09 29 Dec 21
I am a Veteran of United States Air Force and was awarded my first 30% in 1996 and have been fighting for my rating for 26 years I came to Perkins and Studdard in 2019 while my mom was in a terrible incident and was given to much anesthesia and through GODS Grace she was spared her life, She is disabled since 2018 and I have been struggling with my life and issues and yet I didn’t call the law firm every 10 minutes or call being rude anytime, I mentioned this as I got to know Jessica more than just a phone call and Mr Studdard was always available when not working on other cases or in court, They always called back and Never had to do a call back, My Review is Simple in Life there peaks and valleys and it doesn’t stop because you have issues, Perkins & Studdard took my case in 2019 in 2021 I received my 100% from VA, I Was Never Rude, I was Never Promised Success, I Was Never Lied too and I was Always Treated with Respect, Friendliness, and Kindness the Real Stuff not a (Money Thing) If You want a firm that Cares about the Client and will work on your case even through a pandemic, Will not lie, will not promise anything will communicate your case and will Give you their Best ALWAYS THIS IS THE Best Law Firm for VETS HANDS DOWN Perkins and Studdard THERE IS NO OTHER 100% we had 5 calls Total Case That’s Taking Care Of Business
annetteMomma nokesannetteMomma nokes
14:29 12 Sep 16
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Sheila KirklinSheila Kirklin
23:11 12 May 16
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Anna PabonAnna Pabon
23:16 13 Sep 15
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