VA Considers Adding to List of Agent Orange-related Conditions

agent orange

By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is considering the addition of several diseases to the list of health conditions thought to be connected with Agent Orange exposure. Agent Orange was one of the herbicides used by the U.S. military to defoliate rural/forested land in Vietnam, depriving the Vietcong guerrillas of food and cover, and clearing sensitive areas, such as base perimeters.

The VA began recognizing diseases associated with herbicide exposure in Vietnam beginning in 1991

A VA working group is working to determine whether bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson’s-like symptoms should automatically make a Vietnam veteran eligible for VA disability benefits and healthcare.

There is a list of 15 diseases already in place, which include: Hodgkin’s disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, early-onset peripheral neuropathy, porphyria cutanea tarda, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, soft-tissue sarcoma, chloracne, type-2 diabetes mellitus, light chain amyloidosis, ischemic heart disease, chronic B-cell leukemia, and Parkinson’s disease. Also on the list is spina bifida in the children of veterans, with 1,153 descendants receiving benefits.

Some 1 million Vietnam veterans are enrolled in the VA health system, and based on one year’s data, 5,484 veterans have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, 15,983 suffer from hypothyroidism and approximately 1,833 have Parkinson’s-like symptoms. Additionally, 307,324 Vietnam veterans in the VA healthcare system have high blood pressure.

VA recommends that veterans who have an illness they believe is related to Agent Orange exposure file a claim; they are considered on a case-by-case basis if the illness is not on the presumptive condition list.

Should new diseases be added to the list, the regulation would go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

If a veteran dies of a condition determined to be a presumptive condition after the veteran’s death, VA will provide dependency and indemnity compensation benefits to eligible spouses, children and parents of that veteran.

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VA Approves Coverage for Agent Orange Exposure: Military Connection

VA Approves Coverage for Agent Orange Exposure: Military Connection

By Debbie Gregory.

A group of up to 2,100 Air Force personnel and reservists will finally receive service-connected benefits due to their exposure to Agent Orange residue lingering in airplanes.

Affected reservists may have served from 1969 to 1986: the 906th and 907th Tactical Air groups or 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift squadrons at Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air Force Base, Ohio; the 731st Tactical Air Squadron and 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts; and the 758th Airlift Squadron, Pittsburgh.

The military personnel flew or worked on Fairchild C-123 aircraft. Samples taken from planes in the 1990s and 2010 showed toxic residue, and crew members had a much higher risk of cancer, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those affected will be now be eligible for disability aid, including survivor benefits and medical care. The veterans must show they worked on a contaminated plane and later developed prostate cancer, diabetes, leukemia, or other conditions the US Department of Veteran Affairs has connected to Agent Orange.

The VA had denied claims submitted since 2011 by C-123 reservists, saying it was unlikely they were exposed to Agent Orange residue. But earlier this year, the Institute of Medicine concluded that the veterans had been exposed to dioxins in Agent Orange while flying the aircraft after they had been used in Operation Ranch Hand.

Retired Air Force Maj. Wes Carter, a former C-123 officer who has led the charge for health benefits and compensation for C-123 veterans, called the VA decision “a relief” that is unfortunately “tempered by the grief felt for lost comrades.”

Claims will not be awarded retroactively. If you have any questions related to herbicide exposure on C-123 aircraft can call VA’s special C-123 Hotline at 800-749-8387 or via e-mail.

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VA Approves Coverage for Agent Orange Exposure: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory