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Seabee Wife

Am I Wasting My Time?


My late husband, a 'boots on the ground' Vietnam Vet, passed away in 2015. His death certificate showed cause of death "Tongue Cancer." I have finally been able to get the death certificate amended to show PART I, "Squamous Cell CA Tongue" as cause of death and PART II, contributing conditions to show "Sepsis, DM2, and CVA.

The cancer is not on the agent orange presumptive list, however, DM2 is, and possibly soon CVA will be on the list. Since these two illnesses are only contributing conditions on his death certificate, will the VA award DIC or will I be required to jump through hoops to no avail?  My husband had never applied for disability. The DM2 diagnosis and CVA occurred after the cancer diagnosis.

Thank you for your time and input in this matter.          

Edited by Seabee Wife

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You should definitely apply for DIC, to cover everything on the Death Certificate.

They should award under the DMII,unless the squamous cell cancer was a STS cancer, under the AO presumptives.

And Yes there is a chance of the CVA getting onto the presumptive list.

If he had no VA medical records, and just private ones, VA wil want a copy of them, but they should still award under DMII or the cancer.

My husband was a VA patient and I was awarded AO DIC for  DMII contributing to his death....

not on the death certificate and never diagnosed and treated by the VA...

I dont think you will have any problems with the DIC. 

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Did you consider any of the advice here you received in 2015?

Did you at that time file a claim?

The BVA decision I put into the older posts  ,although it was specific to the deceased veteran, held a VHA opinion that granted the widow DIC for squamous  cell cancer of the tongue,due to her husband’s exposure to Agent Orange.with a full medical rationale, that this disability fell under the respiratory disease criteria of the Agent Orange presumptives.

I certainly raised the 1151 issue regarding the MRSA ,as well, and  had a link to two MRSA awards of compensation under 1151.  In the older posts.

I believe four of us members here advised to file the claim.

The reason I ask, is that, if you have never filed a claim yet for DIC, and if the VA awards the DIC, the retro DIC will only go back to the date of the formal claim that was filed.

You might want to explain exactly where his unit was in Vietnam.

The Seabees did a lot of work in Vietnam, but I fear the VA might only see USN, not find his ship on the AO Ship's list, and deny because they didnt have enough info as to Boots on Ground.

His ship might be on the AO ships list, however, and that updated list is here under a search.

Those ships have been considered  by the VA to have been exposed to AO and any sailor who was on them during the war, was exposed to Agent Orange as well-whether they stepped on Vietnamese soil or not.

Seabees ,in the construction battalions ,were all on Vietnamese soil.


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Ms. Berta, thank you so much for your information. I did not file in 2015 as I felt I needed to get the death certificate amended first. Quite frankly, I felt the squamous cell tongue cancer was not going to be approved without a long drawn out fight. I procrastinated on contacting the physician that signed the death certificate, but once I did, he added the MRSA, DM2, and CVA. Unfortunately, I do realize that if I am awarded a DIC that it will only be effective with the date of formal request. I sent off my paperwork today. I included medical records that state he had been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus and electronically signed by the hospitalist. I also sent a copy of his DD214 that states "served in Vietnam." Do you think this will suffice?      

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You said the paperwork is in the mail ( I assume you mean the formal 21-534 DIC form).


I also sent a copy of his DD214 that states "served in Vietnam. Do you think this will suffice?"

Many DD 214's contain decorations and medals that reveal that the veteran served during the war but not where they served. They also contain overseas duty periods but I have never seen the words "served in Vietnam" on a DD 214.

I have my husband's DD 214 in front of me.It shows in Block 22, that he had oversease service and it gives the dates.It shows the Vietnam Service Medal but that alone does not prove Boots on Ground-Vietnam.

His DD 215 , plus the Vietnam Campaign Ribbon on his DD 214 reveals decorations/awards  of Vietnam service.

The DD 214 also shows his unit designation at Quantico, under his last command when he was discharged- 1968-But which had changed , when he became part of 1stMARDIV ,Vietnam,Ambhibious Tracktor battalion.65-55 RollingThunder , Ops Starlight.

My point is that your husband's DD 214 might not reveal his Vietnam service at all-just overseas service.

His awards and decorations might but might not reveal Vietnam in country service 

I dont doubt at all that he was there but after 30 plus years dealing with Vietnam vets, I know the VA will need more proof of his service unless his DD 214 has decorations from the Vietnamese Gov and/or it might have ( as on my husband's DD 215, )the Presidental Unit Citation which I am sure many SeaBee Units received.

This is why I suggested :

"You might want to explain exactly where his unit was in Vietnam."

Can you give us the dates  and place of his Vietnam service and any unit designations? 

Since he had never filed a claim before, the VA will need to know this info as well.

Va will attempt to verify his service via JSRRC but I think it is always best if a claimant does that themselves.

Perhaps with that info I can find a unit history to narrow down his time and place in Vietnam.

Do you have his Service Medical Records and his Service Personnel file?

If not you might well need to obtain this information from the National Archives.

VAwill need, as I recall, a raised seal copy of your marriage license, and probably need a raised seal copy of the death certificate,which I what I assume you sent to them.

The VSM....Vietnam Service Medal

From Nov 1991-  2002, the M21 ( VA's guidelines on claims) indicated that receipt of  the VSM was enough to proof boots on ground allowing some Navy veterans who served in the 7th Fleet, with no Boots on Ground -to be awarded compensation for AO disability. I knew one of those vets either from hadit or another vet site I was at....over 20 years ago. The provision in M21-1 was rescinded a few years later and he got a proposed reduction letter from VA because he had not proven boots on ground. (and they had never asked, under the older M21 version regarding the VSM, that had provided his initial AO SC award.)

As a 100% P & T vet at that point with 2 childrens of college age ( eligible for Chapter 35 educational benefits ) he was devastated.But he was willing to do anything to overcome the proposed reduction. Long story -and during one of our many conversations ( I was always trying to draw him out as to possibly stepping onto Vietnam soil-he suddenly remembered something---and I suddenly exclaimed Yippee! One boot on ground will do it.

(that is all he remembered- having one foot on Vetnamese soil as he helped an ARVN officer into a small boat to take him back to the main ship.)The M21 rescinded passage did not account for  American vessels in Vietnamese tributaries at that time. I asked him if he could possibly prove the ARVN incident, and with a LOT of leg work ,he did !

There is more to this story but -with his proof of one foot on Vietnam's soil, the VA canceled a hearing he had requested and immediately  continued  his 100 P & T comp due to AO.

My long point is that DD 214s ( I have read probably hundreds of them) tell only one small part of the story of a veteran's service.When my husband was discharged, the Marines were all herded into a big room in Quantico and asked to write down the deorations and awards they had received. This was how they were preparing the DD 214s in those days, sometimes. He said most of them didnt have a clue on their awards, and just wanted to get the 'hell' out of there, and he only knew of the NDSM , Expert Rifle Badge, Good Conduct Medal and the VSM but they put the VCM on the 214 too. VCM Vietnam Campaign Medal.

A few months before he died he applied for a DD 215 because scuttlebutt at Quantico was that their unit had received the PUC but he had no proof of that.

It was on his DD 215, along with a small package of the ribbons and some decorations and it stated other Vietnamese decorations/medals he had won.With a PTSD claim in process for a higher rating of his SC 30%, we sent VA a copy of the DD 215. I dont think that impacted at all on his 100% P & T SC PTSD posthumous Award, but at least the VA had the corrections in the DD 215.

I feel any vet who believes their 214 is wrong should file for a correction of it.The DD 149 form for that is here at hadit somewhere.

If the DD 215 reveals awards or medals from the Vietnamese Gov, the DOD will probably  send you a nice letter along with the American decorations, ribbons, etc, telling you to purchase the Vietnamese medals at a BX, or PX or on line.

When my daughter graduated from BT, USAF, Lackland ,Texas , she took me to the BX and I had all the paperwork I needed as proof for the Vietnamese Medals, and my legal paperwork as the surviving spouse,

and the letter from DOD as to buying these medals, that my husband received,

but they never even asked for proof .




Edited by Berta
many typos

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To  add ( I am stll having trouble with the posting feature)

we need to know exactly when your husband was in Vietnam.

I briefly went over this link and realized that Seabees were in Vietnam early on,

before and then after the spraying of the AO. His dates of in country service would be critical to a DMII AO claim.



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