A Collaborative Effort Between VA and NARA Helps To Successfully Digitize Vietnam Era Navy Deck Logs

Vietnam Era Navy Deck Logs

In a bid to ensure that disability claims are disbursed for Vietnam-era veterans, the Department of Veteran Affairs announced that they have successfully digitized thousands of deck logs from ships used during the Vietnam war which were stationed offshore. They were able to achieve this due to their collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Who worked closely with VA to discover locations of those ships and then digitize the deck logs recovered from the ships, all of which sums up to over 1,800 in numbers.

How The Digitization Helps Veterans

The information in these deck logs will help validate the claims made by the Blue Water Navy Veterans (those who were posted to serve on ships in deep waters off the Vietnam coast). So, these deck logs will help VA determine where the veterans served, the type of toxins they were exposed to, and also determine if they are eligible for VA disability benefits.

In a press statement made by the VA secretary Robert Wilkie, he said “the deck logs move should make it easier for veterans to receive the benefits they have earned without burdening them with paperwork”.

In the past, only Vietnam-era veterans that served within inland waterways or served on the ground could receive VA disability benefits based on an assumption of exposure to harmful chemicals. The veterans that served on ships offshore were not granted this same opportunity by Veteran Affairs. They were required to provide certain proof that the illnesses they experienced later in life were service-related, and they were also required to provide ship logs as a proof that they truly served in the waters around Vietnam.

Veterans Affairs Advocates clamored for years that the proof required was an unfair obligation on aging and infirm veterans. Now, lawmakers have finally agreed and passed legislation last year which instructed the Department of Veteran Affairs to update their decades-old records.

What Veterans Should Know

The collaboration between VA and NARA successfully digitized over 29 million images from the Coast Guard deck logs and U.S Navy dating back as far as 1956-1978. This provides vital information like date, ship name, and coordinates, which are enough to foster the VA internal processing system. It also ensures that the Veteran representatives have all the evidence needed to make a decision when a claim is filed.

The data obtained has also resulted in faster service for veterans as it has already assisted the VA in granting more than 22,524 claims since Jan 1, 2020. However, NARA has not finished their work yet, as they are still trying to make the newly-digitized records publicly available on the National Archives Website.

VA  officials have also advised veterans looking to file a claim to do so with the help of an approved Veteran Lawyer. However, if veterans or survivors have previously filed a claim and were denied, they can also file a supplemental file with the help of their VA Lawyer.

Benefits of Veteran Supportive Communities

The military lifestyle has taught servicemen and women to be strong in battlefronts and expect the unexpected. Unfortunately, there is no training that teaches them how to handle life after they leave the military. For this reason, many veterans deal with a lot of crises and stress that their civilian family and friends can’t understand, and 95% of the time, these crises are usually due to experiences from their military years.

So, helping these veterans requires a deep understanding of what they are going through. They need to talk to someone who gets it or who has once been in their shoes, and a veteran community is precisely what they need to scale through a crisis.

Below are some of the benefits of community support for veterans in crisis:

  • Access To Top-Notch Care

Veteran communities help veterans get the medical care they need by connecting them to the health services based on their unique needs.

  • Helps Identify More Veterans In Crisis

Many campaigns and programs have been carried out in the past to create awareness and also identify veterans in crisis. Some of these programs have been effective, while some are not.

Fortunately, veteran communities have been able to identify veterans in crisis with the help of social media. Once they find a veteran in crisis, they immediately appoint another veteran in that area to care for the veteran in crisis.

  • Restrict Access To Lethal Equipment

Veterans find it difficult to give up their weapons, and research shows that this is the most common tool veterans use to commit suicide.

So having a supportive community that can be trusted with their weapons will help reduce suicide rates.

Final Note

There are lots of veterans out there that have lost their sense of meaning and can’t figure out their life after the military.

So, if you know a veteran in crisis or you are a veteran in crisis, you can try connecting with other veterans in real life or social media, seek out faith-based communities, reach out to mental health experts at the VA hospital, and also apply for VA benefits available through the Veteran Affairs Department.