Fifty years ago, I fought the Vietnam War from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS America, operating in the Tonkin Gulf in 1968.

I lost most of my hearing working among the jet engines. After two exams at VA in Albany, I received my benefit letter. They determined I was suffering from "acoustic trauma," "service connected." My award was calculated as 0 percent. Yes. Zero. I don't get a benefit.

Suffering from diabetes (type 2) my doctor prescribed Invokana. Sent script to VA and never got any meds. I called and asked "Where is my medicine?" Their response, "Too expensive, we will not fill prescriptions for Invokana." I have to go private and pay a  $179 co-pay.

We fought for years trying to get the VA to admit that Agent Orange wafted into the gulf and affected the sailors on these ships. Ten years ago we started a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court. In January 2019, the court found in our favor.

Congress passed the Blue Water Navy Act of 2019 and demanded the VA approve our claims and start paying long-overdue benefits. The VA dragged its feet and eventually had to be forced by Congress to start processing our benefits.

Benefits were to be paid starting January 2020. The VA figured out a way to get around paying us. They determined that the carriers were operating outside the 12-mile limit from shore. And so the VA has determined that the thousands of men on the carriers will be excluded from the benefits of the Blue Water Navy Act and will not be awarded compensation. We appealed to Congress and they refused to allow the carriers to be included.

Robert Carroll


Carroll was an aviation electronics mate with Attack Squadron 82.

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