National Sew Day

Last year’s National Sew Day was a lot of fun. Join Cocke County’s Quilts for Veterans on February 1. See the story for more information.

Last week I announced that as of January 1st the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has started taking claims from Blue Water Navy Veterans. I am in the process, as a DAV service officer, filing one for a Navy Veteran.

This past Thursday I got to speak with Congressman Roe, on a media call, who shared “The VA has already started paying claims.” I also hear that many of the Veterans who previously filed for these benefits and were turned down will be receiving payment retroactive to the date of the first claim.

I was asked at a meeting Thursday night about the Blue Water Navy Act and what veterans are eligible to file claims. I thought I should share the same with my readers.

From the VA, “The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, was signed into law on June 25, 2019. The law took effect January 1, 2020. The law states that veterans who served offshore of the Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides such as Agent Orange and may be entitled to service connection for conditions related to that exposure.

To be eligible for presumption of service connection based on herbicide exposure, the Veteran must have served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam not more than 12-nautical miles seaward of a line commencing on the southwestern demarcation of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia.”

The VA goes on to list eleven intersecting points along latitude and longitudinal lines that I can’t read because I don’t have that type of map. The VA has evaluated the ships logs and determined which ships had any time within those waters. The list is forty pages long and can be found at the website,

Also, to be eligible the veterans must have been affected by one of the fourteen diseases that are currently on the presumptive list for Agent Orange.

• Amyloid light-chain (AL) amyloidosis

• Chloracne, or other acne form disease consistent with chloracne

• All Chronic B-cell leukemias (including, but not limited to, hairy-cell leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia)

• Diabetes mellitus, Type 2

• Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s, formerly known as Hodgkin’s disease

• Multiple myeloma

• Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin’s

• Peripheral neuropathy, early-onset

• Porphyria cutanea tarda

• Prostate Cancer

• Respiratory cancers (cancer of the lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea)

• Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)

• Ischemic heart disease

• Parkinson’s disease

If you or someone in your family fits into this profile, please contact a service officer so he can file a claim for you. You should also contact a service officer if you have had a loved one who was a Blue Water Navy Veteran and died from one of the illnesses on the presumptive list, their relatives may be eligible for compensation.

On the media call I asked Congressman Roe about the progress of the Caregivers Act, part of the Missions Act signed in 2018. This was to open benefits and a stipend for caregivers who help Veterans who served in the military before May 7, 1975. Because of problems associated with the IT infrastructure update the VA missed the October 2018 deadline. He said that he believes that it will be operating by the fall of 2020. My wife will be eligible for the benefits so I hope it will meet his expectations but feel it will be later in 2021. I will certainly keep everyone posted.



This year you should come and join the ladies from the Parrottsville Quilt Guild as they again join other quilting groups across the country for Quilts of Valor’s National Sew Day. Last year we had over thirty local quilters join 4,000 people across the nation, to gather to cut, iron, sew, quilt and finish Quilts of Valor.

This year the Quilts of Valor National Sew Day participants will meet on February 1, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 102. The hall is located at 148 Pine Street. Coordinator Sheilah Strobel said, “This is an opportunity for women and men from the community to be part of honoring America’s warriors. We will have all the machines, material and other needed items for volunteers. No experience is needed, we will show everyone what is needed. It is really an easy and fun thing to be able to complete a block for the quilt.”

The National Quilts of Valor statistics show they have awarded 2,408 quilts this month, 33,375 were awarded in 2019, and 242,485 since their beginning in 2005. Sheila shared that the local group of nine members joined the National effort in 2015. The group has grown to 17 members who have awarded 254 quilts to local veterans. Just this past year 82 veterans were presented Quilts of Valor. With more help we will be able to make more quilts.

This year’s National Sew Day at the DAV hall will include a lunch and prizes throughout the day. Members range from experienced quilters to those who have never sewn, all come just to have fun. I am a member and invite other men to join me and learn a relaxing hobby. Registration is required to qualify for the drawings, please call Sheilah at 423-623-8340.


Marjory Ramsey announced the she and the Cocke County Democratic Party and Women’s Democratic Women’s Club are sponsoring the 16th Annual Valentines for Veterans Breakfast. This non-partisan event will be held on Saturday, February 8, in the Newport Community Center 433 Prospect Avenue beginning at 9 a.m. This year’s speaker is Colonel Christopher Smith, Commander of the 119th Cyber Operations Squadron at McGee Tyson Air National Guard. This free breakfast is non-political and designed to honor those who have served in the military. Last year’s event was filled with food, fun, music and fellowship. The group is also looking for more door prizes, please contact them if you would like to donate. For more information please call Marjory at 423-237-8033.

Rob Watkins is a totally disabled, Air Force, Vietnam combat veteran. He has worked with Veterans for over 40 years. As a member of local organizations, he continues his path to help others. Please send information, dates for events, two weeks in advance, questions or suggestion; by mail to 565 Caney Creek Road Cosby, TN 37722 or c/o Newport Plain Talk, email;, Facebook/View from the Bunker, or call 423-721-8918.

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