Agent Orange Exposure – Do You Qualify Now?
Do you qualify now?A
Our country has fought in many wars and many gave their lives for our Nation’s and Allies’ freedom. Many have also given their life well after the war was over. How? By fighting illnesses and diseases caused by war. Some hardest hit are Vietnam Veterans. Their enemy was not only human, but also an invisible enemy they couldn’t fight with the weapons they were issued. That enemy was a herbicide called Agent Orange. Vietnam is a dense jungle environment and the vegetation provided supportive cover to enemy troops. Millions of gallons of Agent Orange was used to eliminate much of the foliage. It was effective, but in more ways than one.
Upon returning home, our Veterans began experiencing many conditions that baffled modern medicine. Through years of research and with thousands of Veterans and their families speaking out, Congress enacted the Agent Orange Act in 1991. This legislation empowered the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to declare certain maladies “presumptive” to exposure to Agent Orange and enable Vietnam veterans, as well as some veterans who served along the demilitarized zone in Korea in the late 1960s, to receive treatment and compensation for these health conditions. This decision was long overdue, and in many cases, too late for many of our Veterans.
Our country deemed that the use of Agent Orange was a danger to our troops. So, how is the VA helping our Vets now?
The Veterans Administration (VA) has been given specific direction to identify Veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange, and if they contract certain conditions, compensate them for disabilities incurred because of the exposure.
The medical conditions currently associated with Agent Orange are: AL Amyloidosis, Chronic B-cell Leukemias, Chloracne, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Hodgkin’s Disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Parkinson’s Disease, Peripheral Neuropathy (Acute and Subacute), Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, Prostate Cancer, Respiratory Cancers, and Soft Tissue Sarcomas.
How do you know if you qualify for this benefit? First and foremost, a Veteran must be diagnosed with one or more of the conditions listed above. Next, a Veteran must be able to show that they served in Vietnam. Qualifying factors for Vietnam service are: If the veteran served in the Republic of Vietnam, regardless of the length of that service, during the period January 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975 or on a ship or boat that operated in Vietnam’s inland waterways or which docked in Vietnam and the veteran went ashore.
There have been many cases in which the Veteran previously submitted a claim for one or more of the current presumptive conditions and was denied by the VA. This law wasn’t in effect until 1991, and medical conditions are continually being added to the list of presumptive conditions for Agent Orange exposure. It is very possible a Veteran was denied because the condition they were diagnosed with, and subsequently filed a claim for, was not yet on the books as a claimable illness. If you were previously denied for one of the conditions now listed, you need to re-open that claim. Depending on varying circumstances, your disability could be paid retroactive to the date you were previously denied.
If you feel you meet the above criteria for both diagnosis of a medical condition and service in Vietnam, contact your local County Veteran Services Officer or your Idaho Division of Veteran Services Officer. We are here specifically to aid the Veteran and their family in determining eligibility and submitting appropriate applications to acquire VA benefits. This process is free and generally only requires a little of your time. We as Service Officers will complete all forms and ensure the necessary documentation accompanies every claim. We will work with you every step of the way.