Navy in the sunset
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Agent Orange Exposure: The Blue Water Navy Act Brings Hope

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 (Public Law No: 116-23, enacted on June 25, 2019) is a significant piece of legislation that addresses health benefit and home loan programs for veterans. Specifically, the Act extends the presumption of service connection for certain diseases associated with herbicide (Agent Orange) exposure to veterans who served in the territorial waters of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. This means that if you are diagnosed with one of the presumed conditions for Agent Orange, all you have to show is a presence in one of the Agent Orange affected areas. 

Before the enactment of this legislation, the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange and the associated benefits were limited to those who served on land and inland waterways of Vietnam. The Act officially recognizes that veterans who served on vessels within 12 nautical miles from the shore of Vietnam were also exposed to herbicides and therefore may be eligible for VA benefits related to Agent Orange exposure. 

This means that Vietnam Veterans who may not have actually been ‘boots on the ground’ but served on vessels that came within 12 nautical miles of Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975. If you believe you were on a vessel within these dates which was within 12 nautical miles, you will need to be able to provide evidence that you were present on the vessel during that specific time.

Blue Water Navy List & Map

Hill and Ponton have put together an excellent resource for veterans who are researching whether or not they are covered under the act. There is a drop down list of vessels, and when you choose the vessel you were serving on a map is displayed showing the position of the vessel along with the dates it was within the 12 nm of Vietnam.

As for proof that you were on the vessel, there are many pages on the internet sharing ship’s logs. Social media is a great research tool to find shipmates you served with on the vessel. This step is where many veterans have problems. However, don’t give up. If you are certain you were on a vessel in the covered zone during the covered period, keep digging and searching. And remember, your local Veteran Service Officer (VSO) is always available to assist. They may not be able to actually do the searching, but they can often suggest avenues that you haven’t thought of.

Key Takeaways

  • January 9, 1962 – May 7, 1975
  • 12 nautical miles from the Vietnam coast
  • Hill and Ponton Blue Water Navy list and map

As always, we hope this information is helpful. Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question in the comment section below, or you can email us at

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