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.

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