Brian Hill: Hello, and welcome to the Hill and Ponton video blog. I’m Brian Hill here today with Carol Ponton. We’re going to be talking today about the people that got left out of the bill that was passed by Congress concerning Blue Water Veterans. And that is the sailors who served on the carriers who were more than 12 miles from the coast of Vietnam. So, this is very important information. So stay with us and we’ll be right back.
Brian Hill: So Carol, in this new act that was passed, it’s very clear that the sailors on the carriers were not included.
Carol Ponton: Right.
Brian Hill: There was a strong push by several organizations to get these sailors covered by the new act, and it was turned down by Congress. So the question is, what do we do now? How can we help these veterans? And I think what we need to understand is that we may not be able to get the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange for these men, but there’s a lot of things that we can do for them. Carol, you handle these kinds of cases.
Carol Ponton: Right. You know, it’s so sad because you want to help these veterans. But the great thing that we found is sometimes and many times we’ve been able to get them service-connected in other ways. Asbestos exposure, JP-4 fuel exposure. There are a lot of things that once we look at exactly what the veteran did on that carrier, and where exactly they work, we’re able to get them many benefits similar to or the same as they would get from exposure to Agent Orange. So basically we’re saying you need to have somebody really look at everything about your case, what you may have been exposed to, and what that would entitle you to as far as benefits.
Brian Hill: I had a case involving a widow whose husband was in the Blue Water Navy and we fought like crazy to try to get the presumption of Agent Orange for that veteran and we just couldn’t get it. And at the last minute, I realized this man was on a Navy ship for an extensive period of time. He died of a lung disease and that’s clearly an asbestos issue. And we brought that up. We have an expert, one of the most qualified experts in the country …
Carol Ponton: Wonderful. Was formerly the person who did all the testing for the military.
Brian Hill: And she gave us the opinion we needed and we got service connection, even though we never got the presumption of Agent Orange, we got service-connection for that woman. And she got her benefits.
Carol Ponton: And I have a veteran who I could not prove was in Vietnam, but I realized he had been exposed to JP-4, and therefore I was able to get him service-connected for the same benefits he was asking for under Agent Orange.
Brian Hill: So I guess what we’re saying to the veterans who don’t get this new presumption, don’t give up. Make sure you’ve talked to somebody who knows where you were and knows the toxic exposures you were exposed to in service. And let’s see what we can do for you. Thanks so much for joining us today. And if you have any questions, please call us.