Veterans Corner: VA decides more than 34,000 Blue Water Navy disability claims

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    By Raymond Taylor
    Archuleta County Veterans Service Office

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it has decided more than 34,000 Blue Water Navy disability claims, under the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, effective Jan. 1 — which extends the presumption of exposure to herbicides such as Agent Orange to veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. 

    As of Sept. 30, the VA has processed 34,415 (48 percent) of 69,570 claims received, of which 24,328 (71 percent) have been granted — awarding more than $664 million in retroactive benefits to eligible veterans and families.

    “It’s important we ensure Blue Water Navy Veterans and their families receive the benefits they’ve earned,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “As a result, VA will continue to get the word out via our social media channels, public service announcements and Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) — to ensure every veteran who is eligible applies as soon as possible.”

    The VA also collaborated with the National Archives and Records Administration to digitize all Navy and Coast Guard deck logs for ships with known Vietnam service. Digitization of the Navy deck logs was completed in December 2019 and Coast Guard deck logs were completed in September. As part of the agreement, the VA provided digital images of the deck logs to NARA to make digitally available in the National Archives Catalog. Veterans may contact inquire@nara.gov if the deck log they are seeking is not available in the National Archives Catalog.

    For assistance in filling a claim, veterans may contact approved veteran service officers.

    Veterans Day

    Keep up with articles in The Pagosa Springs SUN. Conditions change nearly every day. We plan to continue our awesome tradition of the Veterans Day Breakfast.

    Vets4Vets grant

    Vets4Vets has received a grant from the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is to support veterans in our community through the following assistance: housing, utilities, mental health counseling, dental services, travel assistance, automobile repairs, gas and food cards, and emergency veteran assistance. 

    Contact Vets4Vets at 799-VETS or www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

    Contact information

    Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home.

    For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office (VSO), located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

    The office: 264-4013, fax number: 264-4014, and email is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. Bring your DD Form 214 (discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO. Always leave a message and phone number to contact you.

    The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

    • American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

    • Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Tennyson Building Event Center, 197 Navajo Trail Drive. Breakfast meeting on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. Contact 799-8387 for more details.

    • Combat Veterans PTSD Group: every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, Lewis Street. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.

    • Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: first and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Carter’s office; contact Charlotte at 903-9690.

    Important information

    • 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

    • Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

    • Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.

    • VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.