Brian Hill: Hello, I’m Brian Hill here with Carol Ponton, to talk with you today about the Procopio case and how it affects our Blue Water veterans.
Carol Ponton: Now, we want to let you know, this is a very confusing area. And as you know, there’s just a new law that was passed by Congress, waiting for the President to sign, that also has to do with the same issues in many ways as the Procopio case. But they’re different. And that’s why we want to talk to you just about what rights you get from the Procopio case.
Brian Hill: Right. So Procopio basically said that veterans who served within the 12 mile limit of Vietnam are considered veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. The new law goes beyond that. It accepts what Procopio found. But it also says that not only do those veterans get the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange, but they also get to go back and reopen any case they filed for Agent Orange exposure after 1985.
Carol Ponton: There’s really a problem with that because often when the VA has done something that they decide they should have done differently, they will go back and contact the veterans. Is that going to happen in this case?
Brian Hill: In this case, the law does not provide… What Carol’s talking about is the type of notice that was required by the court in Nehmer back in the early 1990s when they first required the VA to accept exposure to Agent Orange, the VA was required to personally contact each veteran who had filed a claim and tell them that the law changed.
Carol Ponton: Yeah. And they did that again when they accepted them for, say, heart and some cancers.
Brian Hill: Right. Right. But not this time. This time, the law only requires that the VA notify the VSOs for instance, and to publish on their websites the change in the law. So there’s not going to be the personal notification that took place in the Nehmer case. It’s going to be more of a generic publication, probably will not be as effective as the Nehmer notification.
Carol Ponton: So the Procopio case simply provides the same kind of benefits that the veterans who have shown that they were in country had before. Right?
Brian Hill: That’s right.
Carol Ponton: And what is the definition of these veterans?
Brian Hill: The veteran entitled to use the new Act is first of all, a veteran who served in the blue water Navy within the 12 mile limit of Vietnam, and, secondly who filed a claim after 1985 requesting benefits as a result of exposure to Agent Orange. And when I say veteran, I need to make sure you understand, because it’s very important that it’s not just veterans. It’s veterans and their survivors. So if the veteran has died as a result of Agent Orange exposure, that survivor is still entitled to get full benefits.
Carol Ponton: This is so important because for years, I represented veterans, years and years ago, that were not able to get these benefits because they didn’t set foot in Vietnam. And many of those have died. And it is so sad that they did not get their benefits. But please don’t let this go to waste. I know a lot of you know veterans who this happened to. They have widows or widowers, and this is your chance to reach out there and help other veterans, as well as filing claims for yourself if this happens to be one of your claims.
Brian Hill: Well, thank you for joining us today. And we’ll hopefully get you more information about how this is working out.
Carol Ponton: Bye.