Decades ago the U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides on trees and vegetation during the Vietnam War and several decades later, concern about the health effects from these chemicals continue.
By 1981, the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began to offer priority medical care to Vietnam veterans with health problems that may have resulted from Agent Orange exposure, and that continues today. After years of advocacy, Congress enacted into law the Agent Orange Act of 1991. Due to this legislation the VA can declare certain maladies “presumptive” to exposure if you were boots on ground in Vietnam or in other designated presumptive areas.
Vietnam veterans with disabilities incurred or aggravated by military service may receive monthly VA compensation. Based on clinical research, the following diseases are now on the VA’s Agent Orange list: AL Amyloidosis, Chronic B-cell Leukemia’s, Chloracne, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Hodgkin’s disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, Multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s Disease, Peripheral Neuropathy, Porphyria cutanea tarda, Prostate Cancer, Respiratory cancers (lunch, bronchus, larynx, and trachea), and some Soft-tissue sarcomas.
In addition, monetary benefits, health care and vocational rehabilitation services are provided to Vietnam veteran offspring with spina bifida, a congenital birth defect of the spine. Generally, to be eligible for compensation under the presumptive exposure to Agent Orange a Veteran must have served:
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▪ In the republic of Vietnam during the period Jan. 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975.
▪ On a ship or boat that operated in Vietnam’s inland waterway or which docked in Vietnam and the veteran went ashore.
▪ In Korea between April 1, 1968, and Aug. 31, 1971; in a unit recognized by the VA and Department of Defense to have operated in an area in or near the Korean DMZ in which herbicides were applied.
▪ Or in certain air bases in Thailand.
You must also currently have been diagnosed, or have residual or secondary conditions from one of the diseases found on the VA’s list of conditions linked to herbicide exposures
For a list of recognized vessels, recognized units, bases, and occupations go to http://nando.com/4cc
Veterans may be eligible for a free Agent Orange Registry health exam. You don’t have to file a disability compensation claim to receive the exam. Contact your local VA Medical center about getting an Agent Orange Registry health exam.
For more information regarding filing a claim or veterans benefits in general please contact me at 919-245-2890 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Appointments are available at the Orange County Department of Social Services, Orange County Department on Aging senior centers, and the Orange County NC Works Career Center.
Betsy Corbett, MSW, LCSWA, is the veterans service officer at the Orange County Department of Social Services.