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Question

 

Active duty son trying to get some advice on how to handle my dad’s VA claim.  I appreciate any feedback and suggestions on how to proceed. 

My dad who is 78 years old is a Navy veteran of 23 years and served in Vietnam.  He was stationed on the USS Kawishiwi (AO 146), which is a Navy ship on the VA’s “brown water” list (http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/shiplist/list.asp).  My dad filed a VA Claim in 2003 for several diseases related to Agent Orange to include Type II diabetes, Heart Disease (had quadruple bypass, angioplasty, and splints done), Hypertension, various skin conditions, Gall Bladder and Liver conditions.  The documentation that VA acknowledge receiving for this claim included his VA Form 21-526, VA Form 21-4142, Copy of his DD214, VA Form 21-22, and copies of medical records from MTF (Portsmouth Naval) and various civilian doctors.   Unfortunately I don’t have a copy of the decision letter for this claim but I know he was denied the claim as these medical issues on his EBenefits “Disabilities” page have these medical issues being “Not Service Connected”

My question is shouldn’t at least some of the issues be defaulted as “Service Connected” due to Agent Orange exposure as a “brown water” veteran?  Most of the research I’ve done state that a Vietnam Veteran who have any of the diseases (http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/) and can prove that they were in Vietnam as either “boots on the ground” or “brown water” should receive VA compensation.  If this is the case why was my dad denied his claim?

So again I’m looking for advice on how to proceed. 

1.       Do I file a new VA Claim for my dad’s diseases related to Agent Orange? 

2.       If I file a new VA Claim what will the date be for his benefits?  Will it be the date of this new claim or can they revert back to the original claim date from 2003?

3.       Should I not open a new claim and try to reopen the original 2003 claim? 

Note: My dad is already receiving 40% disability for hearing loss and tinnitus.

I wish I could have been more on top of this for my dad but I haven’t lived in the same area as him for 18 years and its difficult trying to stay on top of things.  I was home visiting for Thanksgiving and spent some time going through his documents and wanted to see what I can do.  I’m now committed to working this through resolution.  My dad is a hard worker who worked 2-3 jobs most of his life to support his family.  I would love to see him get these benefits that he deserves. 

 

Edited by allfromvb
mispelled word

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I think you have made a mistake on the ship name. The USS Kawishiwi (AO 146)

was a fleet Oiler and likely stayed at Yankee Station. Her cruise info shows only Viet Nam west packs. There is a ship named the USS Kishwaukee (AOG-9) Operated primarily or exclusively on Vietnam's inland waterways.

 

I wish I could help more but unless John Rossi and Company pull a rabbit out of thin air, The probability of service connection for BWN will remain very thin.

 

Sorry 

 

Basser

 

Edited by jbasser

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John is correct. The most recent VA AO ship's list (Nov 2015) is here:

http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/shiplist/list.asp

I suggest that your dad obtain all of his military service records and his SMRs.

Veterans have succeeded in proving exposure to AO, even being exposed stateside.

I assume the denial was never appealed.

"Should I not open a new claim and try to reopen the original 2003 claim? "

The claim can be re-opened with strong New and Material Evidence, that can overcome the reasons they denied.

"My question is shouldn’t at least some of the issues be defaulted as “Service Connected” due to Agent Orange exposure as a “brown water” veteran?  Most of the research I’ve done state that a Vietnam Veteran who have any of the diseases (http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/) and can prove that they were in Vietnam as either “boots on the ground” or “brown water” should receive VA compensation. "

That is basically true.

"If this is the case why was my dad denied his claim?'"

I assume they denied because they had no proof of boots on ground or brown water.

I had a Brown water vet many years ago that they awarded AO SC  then suddenly wanted to drop his compensation.

Nothing is impossible. We worked very hard to prove them wrong with evidence, and they restored his full AO comp.

That is why I said your statement is basically true but sometimes it involves a battle.

You need to have your dad obtain his C file to see the reason they denied his claim.

Perhaps it is that maybe the wrong ship was claimed as exposed to AO and/or with 23 years of military service, his SMRs and military records could reveal he was exposed to AO elsewhere.

Our AO forum has many of those cases whereby vets proved they were exposed to AO outside of Vietnam, and had presumptive AO disabilities.

His DD 214 should reveal any decorations/awards  he got ...some might prove he served in Vietnam.

Then again he might have to send in a DD 149 (the form is available here under a search), to find out what might be missing on his DD 214.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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allfromvb,

No matter what happens, you are doing a very honorable thing, to help your father with this. 

Semper Fi.

Andyman

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I agree because this is often very time consuming work but that is often what it takes.

This is a link to the Robert Gray Case,posted here by the attorney who represents this veteran

 

http://community.hadit.com/topic/60651-will-va-finally-admit-that-da-nang-harbor-is-an-inland-waterway/

The case ruling has had significance to other Navy veterans thus:

http://www.va.gov/vetapp15/Files5/1537993.txt

In part:

"Nevertheless, an August 2012 response from the Personnel Information Exchange System (PIES) confirmed that the Veteran served "in the official waters of the Republic of Vietnam" on several occasions between 1965 and 1969, including service aboard the USS JEROME COUNTY, LST-848 (1965-1966), the USS ALUDRA, AF-55 (1968), and the USS KAWISHIWI, AO-146 (1969).  However, the PIES response indicated that there was no conclusive proof that the Veteran had "in-country service."  While there is indication that the ships on which the Veteran served were stationed in harbors and locations off the Vietnamese coastline, there is no official documentation that these vessels docked during the Veteran's service."  

In another Recent BVA decision, the Gray case is mentioned again

http://www.va.gov/vetapp15/Files3/1526902.txt

What this means is that the Remands call for the VA to look further into other ships the veterans had been on.

You need to see all of your father's military records and even try to obtain deck logs because the BVA, in the above recent decision, with a finding that the USS Kawishiwi had docked in Vietnam,suggests to me that this potential evidence of docking ,if proven,  would not only help prove this BVA vet's  case but it would help get this ship onto the VA's AO ship's list.

I would think your dad might well have been on other ships as well, some which could be on the recent AO list now.

The brown water vet I mentioned above...that took a lot of research as well as countless phone calls I had with him,

in those days when I could spend that type of time on the phone and doing research.

One day we had discussed the legal vocabulary of the regulations at length ( which also became part of his appeal but he requested a hearing too) and then we ended the call with just BSing about Vietnam.Suddenly he remembered a incident he had never mentioned to me before.I asked him to repeat what he just said in as much detail as possible.....

BINGO....regardless of the evidence we already had, he revealed the exact nexus he needed!

He immediately set to work again and found documented  proof of what he told me....it think it was in the ship's logs and he also

found a buddy for a buddy statement to confirm it, and sent that evidence to his VARO ASAP.

The VA cancelled the hearing and dropped their proposed reduction of his AO comp.

My long point here is your dad and you need to converse as much as possible on when and where he served and the complete military records he obtains will jog his memory.

AO was in Korea, Thailand, CONUS, Guam, Okinawa, etc etc and vets have proven that fact.

James Cripps, the first CONUS vet, (a member of hadit) and Kurt Pressman, the first Thailand AO vet, a member here as well,

did the leg work and through their victories they helped many others. Nothing is impossible.

Personally I would not depend on VA to clearly follow any remand (as within the above cases) or attempt to obtain what many remands call for.

I feel the veteran  should be proactive in doing that themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Berta
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Check out John Hill Attorney H&P Veterans Attorneys 

Interesting read.

 I had heard through the grapevine  that if any soldier from any Branch of service set one boot on the ground in the RVN is eligible for AO benefits if he can prove it.

https://www.hillandponton.com/va-disability-benefits-agent-orange-heart-claims/

 

..........Buck

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