Borne the Battle #220: Vietnam War Veteran John Burns and Iraq War Veteran David Eckert, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act


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While serving as an electrics technician aboard USS Davis during the Vietnam War, Blue Water Navy (BWN) Veteran John Burns said he never felt like his life was in danger. He appreciated the experience because he was able to visit parts of the world he had never seen before. The last thing he expected was to have been exposed to Agent Orange while off the coast of Vietnam.

In this episode of Borne the Battle, two Veterans from two very different generations come to talk about the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. Burns, a Vietnam War Veteran spoke about:

  • His unanticipated participation in the Vietnam War
  • The symptoms he had after Agent Orange exposure
  • His experience filing a BWN claim
  • How the BWN Act benefits improved his life

David Eckert, an Iraq War Veteran and lead policy analyst for VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities, also joined this episode. Eckert leveraged his background working with the BWN Act to share:

Burns never regretted serving in Vietnam. Nor does Burns believe he suffered too badly from Agent Orange.  However, he still encouraged all Navy Veterans who believed they were exposed to the chemical in Vietnam to apply for benefits. He argued BWN Veterans deserve the compensation and that the application process was easy enough to justify simply trying.

Eckert and Burns emphasized BWN Vietnam Veterans should try and submit a claim even if they submitted a claim before the BWN Act passed, never filed one or received a denial but want to try filing again. In some cases, their surviving family members may also be eligible for benefits. There are countless ways to file a claim:

Though from two different generations of the U.S. Armed Forces, Burns and Eckert said they hope BWN Vietnam Veterans will file a claim and get the compensation they deserve.


CLICK HERE TO READ THE EPISODE 219’S ENTIRE TRANSCRIPT

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Calvin Wong is an intern with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team. He is an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis studying History.

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