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Compton: Code establishes connection between Vietnam, non-Hodgkin's

By George Compton
Saturday, October 18, 2008

Q. A shipmate of mine just got rated 100 percent disabled for a presumptive condition (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) and he never served on land in Vietnam. Does that mean the court case concerning offshore Vietnam service has been decided?

A. In the pending court case of Haas v. Nicholson, which concerns the definition of service in Vietnam and presumptive herbicide exposure, a stay was granted that placed a hold on development of all claims based on herbicide exposure in which the veteran did not serve on the ground in Vietnam or on its inland waterways.

There is a separate paragraph in the Code of Federal Regulations that specifies that service in Vietnam, including the offshore waters of Vietnam during the Vietnam era, together with the development of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma manifested subsequent to such service, is sufficient to establish service connection for that disease.

Q. I was recently rated 100 percent service-connected disabled, and my daughter is going to attend USC using Chapter 35. How much money will she receive each month as a full-time student, and are there any other education benefits?

A. As of Oct. 1, the Chapter 35 rate for a full-time student (minimum 12 semester hours) is $915 a month. She applies for this benefit at the college, and they will verify enrollment.

Make sure that when she starts receiving Chapter 35 benefits, she is taken off your compensation award or you will have an overpayment.

USC is a private university so she is not eligible for the California Fee Waiver.

Q. I was recently rated 100 percent disabled by the VA. What do I need to do to get a vehicle fee exemption from the DMV?

A. The vehicle fee exemption is not automatic with a 100 percent disability rating. For the exemption you must have a disability that substantially impairs mobility; cannot move without the aid of an assistant device; have the loss or loss of use of one or more limbs; or have suffered permanent blindness.

If you believe you qualify for the exemption, you need to contact the VA for a Mobility Letter that will verify your mobility problem to the DMV. If you need assistance in contacting the VA, we will help.

— George Compton, retired Army colonel, is the veterans service officer for the County of Ventura, Human Services Agency. Send your questions to Veterans Service Office, 1701 Pacific Ave., Suite 110, Oxnard, CA 93033; phone number: 385-6366; fax: 385-6371; or e-mail:

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