Vietnam-era veterans are eligible for new service-connected disability benefits under the terms of the recently enacted PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins) Act, according to Bedford’s veterans’ agent.
“I think the publicity of this was targeting Gulf War and post-9-11 veterans because of toxins in the burn pots they were exposed to,” said Bill Linnehan. He said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is projecting eligibility for some 3.5 million veterans.
“But there are two additional presumptive conditions” that also cover Vietnam veterans, he continued. “One is monoclonal gammopathy, a blood protein that can spark cancer. The other is hypertension, high blood pressure.”
As “presumptive conditions,” Linnehan said, “the VA says the burden of proof is less. So, if you were in a certain area at a certain time and you have one of these, you don’t have to prove it.”
Linnehan said that the agency usually requires a detailed supporting statement “to make a compelling case.” But this situation is different; “just produce records for the VA when you file a claim.” He said there are an additional 23 presumptive conditions, including 10 varieties of cancer.
He also noted, “A veteran may have filed a claim for compensation and was denied. The VA encourages the veteran to refile. Work with your local veterans’ services officer to file your supplemental claim. All we need to show is where they served and when, and one of the presumptive illnesses.”
“If a veteran died from a service-connected injury or illness, the surviving spouse, parent, or child would qualify for dependency indemnity compensation, a death benefit. And if they were denied initially, it’s the same process.”
“I always see myself as the point person in the community for any veterans’ concerns,” Linnehan said.
His office, which recently moved to the Town Center, is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. “I can review them, in person or on the phone (781-275-1328).”