Of recent, we had a few favorable decisions that address similar issues than may provide insight for veterans with similar concerns. In this Blog, it involves proof of service in the Republic of Vietnam.
In terms of the little things, the now-updated version of Acrobat Reader permits me to save already-filled Standard Form (SF) 180s. This form is used to make a request for military personnel records from the National Personnel Records Center. Thank you, Adobe.
1. Concession of Exposure due to Located Transfer Orders from Vietnam
Most recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) conceded exposure to Agent Orange for a Vietnam-era Navy veteran. This concession was based upon now-located transfer orders from Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam.
Upon representation, we had filed a request for records with the above-mentioned National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). Even before receiving copy of the veteran’s Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), the veteran recalled maintaining copy of his 201 File after exit from service. Upon review, the transfer orders from Da Nang were located within. I helped the veteran draft a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746 (veterans can use the VA Form 21-4138) explaining the nature of his service in Vietnam. Last week, the VA conceded service in Vietnam based upon transfer orders from Da Nang, granted conditions related to Agent Orange (TCDD) exposure, and we are now addressing some of the downstream issues.
AAR for service members — as I’m sure some smart SSG told you in service — maintain copy of your service/medical records upon discharge. My gratitude to one smart veteran who made my life (and, consequently, his claim) infinitely less complicated.
2. Concession of Service in Intercoastal Waters of Vietnam
Part of the AAR in the second case, involves faith . . . faith in the veteran’s recollection of events related to his claim for compensation.
In this veteran’s case, the veteran had explained that the Board of Veterans’ Appeals had remanded his case many years ago on the issue of whether his Navy service aboard the U.S.S. Vancouver (LPD-2) constituted service in the intercoastal water of Vietnam. He was uncertain of status and had moved twice in the intervening years since remand. I accepted representation, in part, to get the veteran’s claim procedurally tracking regardless of appellate status (appellate status normally a predicate for representation).
Upon reception of the veteran’s C File, I quickly assessed that the veteran was correct, there was still an unadjudicated Board of Veterans’ Appeals remand from 2011. Thankfully, I also received copy of the veteran’s OMPF proximate to that time. His personnel records clearly evidenced participation in amphibious assaults into the Republic of Vietnam. Between the contact with Regional Office and myself, an error in VACOLS was corrected, and the VA issued a decision conceding service in Vietnam and exposure to Agent Orange. While there are some issues left to resolve before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, the big-picture issue was resolved.
If you have questions regarding your eligibility for benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (732) 382-6070 or via email at sdirector@FRE-L.com.