Blue Water Navy

Effective January 1, 2020


M21-1, Part IV, Subpart ii, Chapter 1, Section H -

Developing Claims for Service Connection (SC) Based on Herbicide Exposure

Change Date   December 31, 2019  IV.ii.1.H.1.a.  Overview of Policy Changes Based on PL 116-23​

​Effective January 1, 2020, upon implementation of the statutory amendments in Public Law (PL) 116-23, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established centralized processing teams at designated regional offices (ROs) and decision review operations centers (DROCs) and has instituted the following policy changes regarding herbicide claims processing:

​​Centralized processing for all herbicide claims (excluding legacy appeals) from Vietnam-era Veterans for all branches of service.
Concessions of qualifying service, to include in-country, inland waterways, and eligible offshore waters as defined in  PL 116-23  are the sole jurisdiction of the centralized processing teams or designated legacy appeals personnel.
Centralized rating and authorization for all claims (excluding legacy appeals) impacted by the new law.
Creation of a specialized team of subject matter experts, the Records Research Team,

who will research complex herbicide-related cases.
The Navy and Coast Guard Ships Associated with Service in Vietnam and Exposure to Herbicide Agents, aka “the ship list,” previously used by all claims processors to concede qualifying service, is now restricted to the Records Research Team and designated legacy appeals personnel.