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  • 14 Questions about VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claims

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    When a Veteran starts considering whether or not to file a VA Disability Claim, there are a lot of questions that he or she tends to ask. Over the last 10 years, the following are the 14 most common basic questions I am asked about ...
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  • Most Common VA Disabilities Claimed for Compensation:   

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  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

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    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

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NOTE:

VA_Training_Letter_10-06.pdf

Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans Benefits Administration

Washington, D.C. 20420

All VA Regional Offices

Training Letter 10-06

SUBJ: Adjudicating Disability Claims Based on Herbicide Exposure from U.S. Navy and Coast Guard Veterans of the Vietnam Era

Purpose

The Compensation and Pension (C&P) Service is providing the following information and guidelines in order to promote regional office awareness, consistency, and fairness in the processing of disability claims based on herbicide exposure from Veterans with service in the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard during the Vietnam era.

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This training letter,

"TRAINING LETTER 10-06

Adjudicating Disability Claims Based on Herbicide Exposure from U.S. Navy and

Coast Guard Veterans of the Vietnam Era"

The training letter contains several misleading and inaccurate assumptions, statements, and conclusions concerning blue and brown water.

As a Navy veteran that served on LST1167 and LSMR536, (Small "amphibious" ships) I'd point a couple of them out.

1. Small boats used to ferry officers, crew, mail, small amounts of "cargo" and other items generally had a crew of at least three, and possibly more.

The Coxswain was in charge of boat handling. An "engineer" (Snipe) was usually part of the crew, in case the boats engine(s) or other mechanical system had trouble.

At least one line handler was also needed. An additional crewman (Radioman) might also be assigned if there was a possible need to communicate from the boat to a ship or shore facility.

A "combat" landing party usually also involved a junior commissioned officer, and others when the boat had mounts for (and carried) 30 or 50 caliber machine guns. In this case a "gunner's mate" was also added to the boat crew.

If mail was carried, a required passenger was at least a Yeoman that was authorized to sign for ship's mail. Limiting A.O. presumption only to the coxswain is a serious and obvious error.

2. Just because a "bay" such as Cameron Bay, or the bay at Da Nang opens to the sea does not make the bay exclusively "Blue Water" The Cameron Bay is a complex area, with parts open to the sea, and other areas much more sheltered.

These sheltered areas are somewhat similar to the river mouth areas in the Delta, and may have significant outflow from rivers, etc.

The Da Nang inner bay area had significant out flow from a river that bisected the city, as well as drainage/ runoff from the USAFB at Da Nang. Even today, there is measurable dioxin contamination in the runoff and in areas of the ex USAFB.

Harbor areas are often the most sheltered part of a bay. As such they should be considered as a separate area for A.O. presumption.

It was about half a century before the VA actually (recently) recognized/decided that LSTs and LSMRs, as well as small boats used in Vietnam waters should be A.O. presumptive.

A significant problem is that a coxswain might be granted presumptive status by rate, other boat crew members would likely have to use "buddy statements", since records were not kept.

In a few cases, a personnel training/advancement record might show qualifications related to small boat operations, but not actual small boat crew status.

The LSTs and LSMRs were commonly a unit of Seventh Fleet (Blue Water), and then further assigned to in country operational support, including "close in" fire support efforts. 7th Fleet LSTs carried cargo and troops, and frequently operated in the rivers and deltas.

(Blue Water ships operating in "Brown Water".)

NOTE:

VA_Training_Letter_10-06.pdf

Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans Benefits Administration

Washington, D.C. 20420

All VA Regional Offices

Training Letter 10-06

SUBJ: Adjudicating Disability Claims Based on Herbicide Exposure from U.S. Navy and Coast Guard Veterans of the Vietnam Era

Purpose

The Compensation and Pension (C&P) Service is providing the following information and guidelines in order to promote regional office awareness, consistency, and fairness in the processing of disability claims based on herbicide exposure from Veterans with service in the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard during the Vietnam era.

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