VA Secretary Wilkie Stays Proceedings on Blue Water Navy Claims ... and more ...

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has ordered the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the Veterans Benefits Administration to stay proceedings on “certain pending claims” for benefits under the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 - stating that the Act authorizes this action (or lack thereof) until the statute takes effect on January 1, 2020.

The memo not only orders BVA and VBA to stay proceedings on all Blue Water Navy veterans’ claims - but also on claims for:

  • disability compensation for veterans who served near the Korean Demilitarized Zone from Sept. 1, 1967 to Aug. 31, 1971;

  • claims for benefits for survivors of deceased Blue Water Navy and Korean DMZ veterans; and

  • claims for spina bifida from “the children of Veterans who were allegedly exposed to herbicides while serving in Thailand” from Jan. 9, 1962 through May 7, 1975.

The memo does NOT prevent VA from complying with a Board decision that GRANTED benefits to any of the above claimants before the date of the memo (July 1, 2019). The memo also does not prevent VA from complying with “the order of any court.” This would (should) include the Federal Circuit’s order in Procopio v. Wilkie, and subsequent orders from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims related to Procopio.