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Hope for veterans exposed to Agent Orange

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Posted at 11:28 PM, Feb 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-02 01:28:07-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Blue Water vets have been denied benefits for years, but a court ruling this week could be the first step to change that.

Sailors who served at sea are known as Blue Water Navy veterans.

Ed Wagner is one of them -- only 18 when he served on the U-S-S Galvaston during the Vietnam War.

Blue Water sailors stayed offshore, but Wagner says he was just a stones throw away. "I was standing out on the deck the first time I saw it and it was like a cloud or a mist and I'm asking around 'What is this?'"
He remembers he could literally see and feel Agent Orange -- an herbicide the military spread during the war that made hidden enemies easier to spot.

Wagner believes it was in the water he drank. "Our waters were exposed ot Agent Orange and even though most ships distill our own water it didn't take out what was in there."

Now in his 70's, Wagner suffers from diabetes -- one of the known health concerns of Agent Orange. Cancers and heart disease also on the list.

Wagner says the VA drew a line -- determining the Blue Water sailors would be denied benefits.
"It's been frustrating with anger and anxiety. How can you acknowledge we were exposed Tell us you know we're exposed to this and yet deny the medical help we need."

The VA could appeal the court decision to the Supreme Court. At this time, there's no word on what the agency will do.

File Video courtesy of Nostrand Productions: