Brian Hill: Hello and welcome to the Hill and Ponton video blog. I’m Brian Hill here today with Carol Ponton, and we’ve got some important information for our Vietnam veterans who served in the Blue Water Navy about the new act that was just passed by Congress. So stay with us. We’ll be right back.
Brian Hill: Congress just passed an act that has been in Congress for a couple of years now, which provides significant new benefits to Vietnam veterans who served in the Blue Water Navy.
Carol Ponton: We’re here to talk about that, and I know that this is not Matt. This is Brian Hill. And I want to let you know that Brian is a lawyer’s lawyer. That means that when we want someone who really understands the law, and this law is complicated, we go to Brian. And so Brian’s here to tell us the details of this law. And I’m telling you, it’s interesting and it’s complex, so we may do this in several segments.
Brian Hill: Okay. So basically, as you all know, the courts recently said that Blue Water veterans are entitled to benefits for service in the territorial waters. It’s called the Procopio case, but this new law takes the Procopio case and goes beyond that. It not only gives service connection for service in the territorial waters of Vietnam. It also gives the veteran the right to go back and get benefits for any claim they’ve filed since 1985 for presumptive diseases.
Carol Ponton: This is really important. This means that it’s not like now. You file a claim. You get benefits the next month starting. Veterans who have filed a claim and been denied can go all the way back to when they first filed that claim, and that’s not only the veterans. If that veteran has died, their heirs are entitled to that. This is an incredible benefit for veterans, and we want everybody to know about it. How exactly does it work?
Brian Hill: Well, the way the law is written is that you can’t file a claim under this act until after January of 2020 next year and then to be qualified for this benefit, this retroactive benefit, you have to show, number one, that you are either a veteran who served in the Blue Water Navy or you are a survivor of a veteran who served in the Blue Water Navy and you have to show that a claim was filed between 1985 and January 2002. The VA is then-
Carol Ponton: So Brian, who’s a survivor?
Brian Hill: A survivor would be the spouse or any dependent child. The survivor is not specifically defined in this new statute, so presumably, they’ll use the same definition of survivor that they use, for instance, DIC benefits. Basically it will be a spouse, but it probably will not be the estate of the veteran. So you have to have a survivor in order to claim these retroactive benefits.
Carol Ponton: And that’s why it’s so important that you understand this law and you get it out to everybody you know, because a lot of people: widows, widowers, they’re not going to understand that there’s a benefit for them for a spouse who died 30 years ago. So these people deserve these benefits. As veterans, you know other veterans. So please make sure that you get this down and you get it out to everybody who you think could benefit from this.
Brian Hill: Okay. And that’s all for today on this subject. We have other subjects that we want to talk to you about. The Blue Water veterans who didn’t get in the boundaries of the 12-mile limit. That will be for a different topic. Thank you so much for joining us.
Carol Ponton: Bye.