Shannon: Hi, I’m Shannon Brewer, I’m an attorney with Hill and Ponton.
Mary: And I’m Mary Klements, a claims advocate for Hill and Ponton.
Shannon: In our last video, Mary and I talked to you about the new Procopio case from the Federal Circuit in DC. And we want to talk to you now about, just a little bit more about the specifics and what this is going to mean to you. Mary, what did the Procopio case do for Blue Water veterans?
Mary: This case extended the Agent Orange presumption to Blue Water veterans, in addition to the Brown Water veterans and the Boots on Land veterans.
Shannon: Okay. So I think the question is now, what is this going to mean for Blue Water veterans who’ve already filed a claim? We have a lot of Blue Water veterans have been fighting this for a while, and they already have a claim in. How much longer do they have to wait, is I think what they want to know. And the answer is honestly, we don’t know. We suspect that the VA isn’t just going to accept this decision. We don’t know that. They will have a right to appeal if they want to. And I think they have 90 days to appeal that to the Supreme Court. If they decide to do that, this could take a while. So it depends on whether the Supreme Court even accepts the case. It depends on whether the case stands. So even if the VA doesn’t appeal it though, or if the Court doesn’t accept the case, we still have some time before anyone’s going to see changes.
Shannon: This case has to trickle back down through the courts to get back to the VA in the first place. And we aren’t expecting the VA to just turn around and immediately tomorrow, start granting this cases. So our Blue Water veterans who’ve already filed claims, they need to be prepared … they’re still going to be waiting. But this is a huge step forward for them. So it’s good news. It’s just not the end. If you have already filed a claim for Agent Orange conditions, you can’t expect an immediate grant, but this law, if it holds, you can expect one eventually. We don’t know how long. So keep appealing them, keep those decisions open if you already have one. Now, for Blue Water veterans who have not filed a claim, if you have a condition that VA acknowledges is related to Agent Orange exposure, you should file that claim immediately. Mary, do you want to talk about some of those disabilities that the VA does acknowledge are related to Agent Orange?
Mary: Yeah, there’s several. One of them is amyloidosis, chloracne, type 2 diabetes, all B cell leukemias, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, early onset peripheral neuropathy, porphyria cutanea tarda, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, and soft tissue sarcomas.
Shannon: So that’s a lot included in that. The way we treat these Agent Orange disabilities, those are the ones that are presumptive. Those are the ones that the VA acknowledges. If you were exposed to Agent Orange and you come up with one of these disabilities, we’re going to agree that it was caused by Agent Orange. There are others, that if your doctor feels that it was related to your Agent Orange exposure, you can also get those service-connected. Some of those might be …
Mary: Hypertension, kidney disease, other cancers that are not on that list.
Shannon: Okay, so if have these conditions, or if you have conditions that your doctor believes are related to Agent Orange, I recommend you file a claim now. And I mean, don’t wait, get out, do that as soon as you can, because the earlier you file the claim, the earlier your effective date can be. So for all the Blue Water veterans, the wait isn’t over. I suspect neither is the fight. But it’s a huge step forward with this new case, so file your claims, keep your appeals alive, and we’re just going to keep moving everything forward. We really appreciate your tuning in today, and check back with us for new Hill and Ponton videos.