Procopio v. Wilkie: May 2019 Update
In January 2019, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals decided the case of Procopio v. Wilkie which resulted in Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans being granted the Presumption of Service Connection for disabilities associated with exposure to Agent Orange, an herbicide and defoliant chemical used by the US military during the Vietnam War.
On April 1, 2019, the Board of Veterans Appeal (BVA) Chairwoman Cheryl Mason lifted the “Procopio Stay” at the BVA.
On May 10, 2019, a BVA decision granted a Blue Water Navy Veteran service connection based on the new rule of law in Procopio v. Wilkie and on May 15, 2019, the VA Office of General Counsel announced in its Advisory Opinion how it will begin processing Procopio issues.
Essentially as it now stands, it is accepted that if there is enough evidence to prove that Blue Water Navy veterans were within 12 nautical miles of Vietnam, the BVA and VA should grant service connection for any presumptive conditions immediately. If there is not enough evidence the BVA will redirect appeals to the VA to develop more evidence. Furthermore, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) has indicated that it will begin work on establishing regulations on what will be accepted as proof that a sailor served on a vessel within the 12 nautical miles.
Please be aware that the Department of Justice [DOJ]has until the end of May 2019 to decide whether or not to appeal Procopio the US Supreme Court. Things appear, however, hopeful that the DOJ will align itself with the position the BVA has already seemingly accepted.
If you or a loved one served on a ship within 12 nautical miles of Vietnam during that era of conflict and has any disabilities believed to be associated with exposure to Agent Orange, please have them contact our office for assistance with their claim and or appeal of their claim.