Advocacy / Legislation Support Letters / Politics

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013 – H.R. 543

AMAC is proud to announce support for another critical veterans bill. HR. 543, the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013,” would provide vital benefits to blue water veterans, who served up to 12 miles off the coast of Vietnam from 1962-1975. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine discovered that plausible routes for exposure to Agent Orange – a harmful toxic chemical to which many Vietnam veterans were exposed during the war – exist for blue water veterans. Unfortunately, thousands of blue water veterans have been denied disability compensation and other medical assistance by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Therefore, H.R. 543 would extend presumptive coverage to blue water veterans, giving them access to the benefits and health services they need moving forward. AMAC wants to ensure that blue water veterans are afforded the same treatments and benefits as the veterans who served on land and inland waterways. Like many Americans, AMAC remains concerned with how our veterans are cared for and treated. We strongly feel that H.R. 543, the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013,” appropriately honors and recognizes their sacrifices.

Click Here to Print Letter

May 28th, 2014

The Honorable Chris Gibson
19th District, New York
U.S. House of Representatives
1708 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Gibson,

On behalf of the 1.2 million members of AMAC, the Association of Mature American Citizens, I am writing to offer support to H.R. 543, the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013.”  This important piece of legislation would provide vital benefits to “blue water veterans,” who served up to 12 miles off the coast of Vietnam from 1962-1975.

Following the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. government linked a toxic chemical found in Agent Orange to a number of serious medical conditions and cancers.  A recent report by the Institute of Medicine found that plausible routes for exposure to Agent Orange exist for blue water veterans.  While many Vietnam veterans already receive disability compensation for their exposure to Agent Orange, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has yet to extend the same assistance to veterans serving just offshore during the war.  As a result, 32,880 individual blue water veteran claims have been denied by the VA through 2009.

Given how difficult it is to prove direct exposure to Agent Orange, H.R. 543 would extend presumptive coverage to blue water veterans – the same presumption that currently exists for veterans who served on land and inland waterways.  Thus, this bill would cover certain claims for disability compensation from blue water veterans suffering from diseases that have been connected to Agent Orange.  AMAC believes H.R. 543 is crucial to ensuring that blue water veterans who were exposed to this harmful chemical are afforded the same benefits and treatments as other Vietnam veterans.

Like many Americans, AMAC remains very concerned with how our veterans are cared for and treated.  AMAC strongly feels that this legislation appropriately honors the sacrifices made by our veterans and that it will enable the VA to serve our veterans better in the future.  Thanks to your attention for this significant issue and your concern for American heroes, AMAC is proud to support the H.R. 543, the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013.”

Dan Weber
President and Founder of AMAC

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Alvin Thomas
2 years ago

I am a veteran of the USS Fred T Berry DD858. I have suffered 1 heart attack and two strokes, 1996 and 2018 and a heart attack 2016. Only 30 % disability. It has effected my memory and right side.. We were in the Mekong Delta area 30 days at a time for months being exposed to Agent Orange. I have 60% short term memory lost and 30 long term.

wayne harris
4 years ago

Wayne harris tonkin gulf 1966 thru 1969 in 1991 masive heartattack in 2010 lost kiney right one to cancer los Prostate to cancer have been denied Compesation

Charles Maples
6 years ago

I was on the gunline for 7 months from April 1972 to November 1972 and we were continually extended on that gunline when our replacements were broken down in Subic. We received the Vietnam service medal, combat action medals and on and on, I was on the Uss Ozbourn DD 846 and we were constantly within 3 miles of the coast, firing and receiving enemy fire during that whole time. I have complete documentation. I was diagnosed with Prostrate cancer and heart problems and can’t get any help or support from the VA. I have been to Oakland, Honolulu, Martinez VA’s and have written to all of my senators and congressmen/women with on results. HR 543 would be very helpful in my day to day life.

Mike Yates
6 years ago
Reply to  Charles Maples

I am asking that you contact your local members of Congress (Both Sides) and ask them support the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. A similar bill was in the House of Representatives last year and was stuck in with over 250 co-sponsors and was not brought to the floor for a house vote. This bill will soon be induced in the House and hopefully in the Senate. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. The bill has had bi-partisan support and will continue to enjoy this support.
Between 1991 and February 2002 Vietnam veteran who served on land, inland waterways, or off the coast of Vietnam were not required to present any sort of documentation as evidence for actually dioxin exposure. In February 2002 the Department of Veterans Affairs changed their rules set forth in 1991 so that you needed to have “Boots on the Ground” in Vietnam or any of it’s offshore islands
In 2002 an Australian Study (EXAMINATION OF THE POTENTIAL EXPOSURE OF ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY (RAN) PERSONNEL TO POLYCHLORINATED DIBENZODIOXINS AND POLYCHLORINATED DIBENZOFURANS VIA DRINKING WATER) found that the water distillation process would actually enhance the toxicity of any dioxin present in the original saltwater.
If you or someone you know was in the Navy during the Vietnam War and they suffer from Prostate Cancer, Respiratory Cancer (including Lung Cancer), Parkinson’s disease, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 or various other disease (see list at then this may help them. Please share this with your friends, neighbors and anyone else you think that it may help.
For more information you can go to Facebook and search for Military-Veterans Advocacy or Blue Water Navy Awareness. To help make it easier for people to contact their Congress Person, I have created a blog and on it I have contact lists of all the Congress people. With it you can click on their name and go to their Web Page for Congress. The blog is at
# Military-Veterans Advocacy

JJ Carpenetti
6 years ago

I was on the USS Juneau off the coast of Vietnam, my ship is on the list. I have been denied for the last 4 years, I have stage 4 Prostate cancer spread to my bones. I haven’t been able to get anyone to help.

Juan medrano
5 years ago
Reply to  JJ Carpenetti

I was on UssJuneau west pack Marines 1971-1972 I have some diseases caused by agent orange. I need a buddy letter from anyone who was on Uss Juneau Vietnam. Va wants proof

johnny l.quapaw
4 years ago
Reply to  Juan medrano

juan, I was with E-Co. 2nd.Bn.9th marines, 3rdlMar.Div. was stationed aboard the USS Juneau,as a Infantry Rifleman. Never knew how far out we were from the Shores of Nam,but at nites you coulc see tracers beign fired in land. I have had a quad/tripe bypass, have High blood pressure, had thyroids nuked,and High Cholestoral , Wheni reported too Easy 2/9 I was a healthy 18yr.old Marine. do you know how close we were from land.””Semper Fi” Juan


Juan Medrano
5 years ago
Reply to  JJ Carpenetti

Hello JJ Carpenetti my name is Juan Medrano. What year were you on the Uss Juneau? What was your unit. I need a buddy letter showing I was on the Uss Juneau. Va wants proof. Thqnks anything you can do will help.

johnny l.quapaw
4 years ago
Reply to  JJ Carpenetti

J.J I was with E-Co. 2nd.Bn 9th.Marines 3rd.Mar.Div somewhere around may/july 1972 Gulf of Tonkin ,and also on the USS Okinawalater. I have had a quad/bypass, diabetes, thyroids,and blood pressue, when I reported too 2/9 I was a healthy 18yr old Marine.Never knew how close we floated around to Nam. “Semper Fi”

alvin e thomas
6 years ago

Just found my ship the USS FredTBerry D858 on the VA list of “exposed to agent orange”. Suffered 4-5 Ischemic Strokes in 1996 and 1 Ischemic Heart Attack 2010. My case was returned from National VA to Wisconsin, VA. Havent heard anything since I saw my ship on the Agent Orange Exposed list, from the Wisconsin VA, where it was returned to by National VA. Have another shipmate in Wisconsin who suffered same type heart attack and bypass surgery.

Deborah petersen
6 years ago

My husband, age 62, is totally disabled from Parkinson’s disease.
He was on the USS Hancock for its final deployment.
This air craft carrier did not have proper desalination techniques in place, therefore, they were drinking water that had jet fuel and agent orange. He was an A.O. He also used TCE without proper precaution. TCE is a known Parkinsonian agent.
He participated in both eagle wind and eagle pull. Sharing living quarters with evacuees who were exposed to agent orange would have exposed him as well. Many helicopters burned and were thrown off the deck because there was a lack of storage. Chemicals leaked into the ocean which was where they got their drinking water from.
He was in the gulf of Tonkin and part of task force 77. These are all documented areas exposures to chemical defoliating agents.
I have all of his service records and medical records. I cannot depend on anyone else to do the research so between caring for him and working, while suffering with multiple sclerosis, myself, I will review every page looking for anything that can get him disability benefits. After 23 years, multiple deployments and an exemplary service record, the va proves over and over that they are not advocates for the very people that they are paid to care for.

Leslie Raymond Garcia
6 years ago

I would like to know the procedure to file with the VA with regard to exposure to Agent Orange. I was on board the USS Allen M. Sumner DD-692 while serving 8 months off the coast of Vietnam in 1967. We operated within the 12 mile said distance from the shoreline. Many times we were at least 300 yards from the shore giving in close gun support. I believe that much of my medical problems have been caused by this exposure.

Also, Monsanto was the supplier of this toxic to the Federal Government through military contracts and should be sued to high heaven for this!

alvin e thomas
6 years ago

My ship, the USS Fred T Berry DD 858 now shows up on the exposed to Agent Orange VA List. Wisconsin has clam back from National. Pray it goes through now! I called them and they said the VA judge should see that!

alvin thomas
6 years ago

Ischemic Strokes are not covered by VA. I am a 1966 Navy Vietnam Veteran. Had 4-5 Ischemic Strokes in 1996 and1 Ischemic Heart Attack in1010. All claims have been denied, by National and Wisconsn VA. Minneapolis VA Hospital “service connected me”, after Wisconsin VA sent me there. Was approved for Ischemic Heart Disease at zero rate of benefits.

alvin e thomas
6 years ago

I was finally appproved by National back no Sept 9, 2014. Approved but not rated nor paid benefits. I guess 4-5 Ischemic Strokes, back in 1996, 1 Ischemic Heart attack, in 2003, causes no hurry for the VA. We called Wisconsin VA, they said it is up to the Feds now. Have written Congressman and Senator ! Have several veteran organizations involved, all to no avail!

6 years ago

Iwas in the 12 mile limit of vietnam in 1972-1973 and also in the gulf of tonkin. i suffer the diseases that come with it, and i was on 4 different ships during this time. I also received combat pay along with a vietnam service medal and vietnam campaign medal. thank you, ken

Edmond Sandoval
6 years ago

The Blue Water Navy has been ignored for years. It is a shame that the VA stripped all of the benefits from us. Now we have all of the diseases that the Ground Troops and the Brown Water Navy has. Unfortunately we cannot prove direct exposure to agent orange. Logically a study could be made to determine the level of exposure to the Blue Water Vets by all of the illnesses they have compared to the Ground Troops. The IOM already suggested that the Blue Water Navy should not be singled out from Presumptive Exposure. Taking care of us would be such a small expense and would pay such large benefits for the VA’s standing and the dying Blue Water vets. Please pass H.R. 543

Donald R. Dodson ETR2 on USS COONTZ DLG9
6 years ago

I will be adding my comment to my congressman Howard Coble of the 6th district in North Carolina. He will be leaving office in January 2015, but hopefully he will address me with the fact of why he has not said anything to me about this bill. His office has been working on trying to get me help with my diabetes that I have been fighting ever since 1975. Ever since our present president has been helping us with our medical situation, Why has he himself not said anything about H.R.543 and the problems I am facing with the expense it is costing me. I just found out today that I will not be covered for the Agent Orange exposure I suffered when the Coontz DLG9 anchored in DaNang harbor to offload 19 North Vietnamese sailors we captured when the three PT boats that was chasing us got sunk by aircraft from the Constellation. We were anchored there for 12 hours on July 2 1966 and I was drinking powdered milk made from shipboard water that was desalinated by the heat process of the ship which made the agent orange 4 times more toxic. Treating my diabetes at present now costs me over $7,000.00 a year and I sure could use some help. I pray to the Lord daily for his help and with his aid, I will be at it until we all get help from the country that put me and us in the situation we now face. other facts related to my quandry can be found at sponsored by John Rossie at Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association.

7 years ago


chris allen
7 years ago

take it from all the damned” planes and boats and trains” they pay for and our care would be just pocket change!
HR-543 would change my world for ALL t he better!!

Another horse to be addressed is the COB budget cuts that take away all the excess paid on Individual Unemplyability… I am rated 60% with IU taking me to 100%…my family will lose $2880.59 per month almost 70% of the income we now get???? Thought Gov was supposed to be our Advocate and they keep showing up as the Anti-Christ in my world!!

7 years ago

We all should thank our government for even thanking about a law that will help our veterans fight agent orange, even
if is 39 years to late . We Should have put the idiot in charge in prison who authorided it in the first place.

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