Mizzou Law School Veterans Clinic Plays Role in Huge Court Win for Navy Vietnam Veterans!

February 6, 2019

On January 29, 2019, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Procopio v. Wilkie held that Vietnam veterans who served in the 12 nautical mile territorial sea of the “Republic of Vietnam” are entitled to the presumption of exposure to the herbicide, Agent Orange.  The exposure presumption had previously been interpreted by the VA to apply only to veterans who set foot on land or served in the inland waterways of the Republic of Vietnam.  The court found that Congress clearly intended that the presumption of exposure apply to those who served in the territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam.  Agent Orange is presumed by the VA to have caused certain diseases in veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam.  Thus, the decision opens the door for “Blue Water Navy” Vietnam veterans with these diseases to receive disability benefits after years of being denied due to the “foot-on-land” requirement.  The Mizzou Law School Veterans Clinic took the lead in preparing and submitting an amicus brief on behalf of the National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium (NLSVCC) in support of the position of the Veteran Alfred Procopio, Jr.  The NLSVCC is a collaborative effort of the nation’s law school legal clinics dedicated to addressing the unique legal needs of U.S. military veterans on a pro bono basis.