The Senate overrode President Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) yesterday. Combined with the House's earlier veto override, the bill is now law. The NDAA contains good news for Vietnam era veterans, with a provision adding three new presumptive service-connected diseases: Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism.
When a disease is presumed service-connected, a veteran must only demonstrate they have the disease, served in a designated area during a defined period, and then they can receive VA disability benefits. For Vietnam era veterans to qualify, they must show actual Agent Orange exposure, or that they served in the Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975. So all applicable veterans who meet those prerequisites and suffer from these three diseases are now eligible for disability compensation.
All practitioners and veterans should be aware of these changes, as it will immediately impact eligibility, compensation, and care. For those of us with cases of Vietnam era veterans at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA), or the VA Regional Office, we should immediately review claims folders and if applicable, file motions alerting everyone to the change of law.