Earlier this year on June 25th, the entire veterans community celebrated when Congress passed, and President Trump signed into law, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. However, less than a week later, our joy turned to dismay when VA Secretary Wilkie issued a blanket stay that stopped all processing of all benefit claims by Blue Water Navy veterans.
In response, DAV and a united VSO community appealed to Secretary Wilkie, calling on him to lift or modify the blanket stay, particularly for those veterans who are terminally ill, over the age of 85 or impoverished, as well as those who already have sufficient evidence to grant benefits based solely on the federal court's Procopio v. Wilkie decision.
Lifting the stay would allow VA to begin processing claims for people like Bobby Daniels from Missouri, a Blue Water Navy veteran, and Claudia Holt of Maryland, wife of Frank Holt, a Blue Water Navy veteran who passed away in May, both of whom traveled to Washington, DC to join us at a press conference this week.
Bobby Daniels, who has terminal prostate cancer, is fearful and angry that his wife of 56 years, Judy, may not receive survivor benefits after he is gone. Claudia Holt, who has applied for survivor benefits, is worried about how she will pay her bills and whether she'll lose her home. Because of the blanket stay, both of them are forced to continue waiting. Regrettably, our pleas have fallen on deaf ears and the Secretary remains unwilling to lift or modify the stay.
So earlier this week, DAV and our VSO colleagues reached out directly to President Trump to ask him to use his executive powers to overrule Secretary Wilkie and lift the stay. As Chief Executive, charged with faithfully executing the nation's laws, President Trump has the authority and the responsibility to change the Secretary's decision and allow VA to begin processing Blue Water Navy claims. Although this injustice did not begin during his Administration, President Trump can end the wait today.
Please add your voice in support of Blue Water Navy veterans by using the prepared email, or draft your own, to ask President Trump to lift the stay and end their wait. Thank you for supporting the men and women who served through your participation in the Commander's Action Network.