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   WB01343_.gif (599 bytes) Pesticide and Environmental Update

Agent Orange VA Disability Benefits Expand

Millions of Vietnam War veterans have seen their health ruined because of exposure to Agent Orange. After years of denying its health affects, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) finally began granting benefits to veterans suffering from cancers and other diseases thought to be the result of Agent Orange exposure. Yet many veterans suffering from other Agent Orange illnesses, including Parkinson's disease, B cell leukemias and heart disease, have been denied their VA benefits.

Fortunately, a new Agent Orange policy recently proposed by the VA will finally make it possible for these Vietnam War veterans to qualify for Agent Orange disability payments and healthcare. The new policy adds three illnesses - Parkinson’s disease; B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia; and ischemic heart disease - to the list of those presumed to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange.

This new designation means that Vietnam veterans diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, B cell leukemias, or ischemic heart disease no longer have to prove an association between their illnesses and their military service. This "presumption” simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits. An additional 200,000 veterans may now be eligible for VA benefits under the new Agent Orange policy.

If you served in Vietnam, and suffer from Parkinson’s disease, B cell leukemias, or ischemic heart disease, we want to hear from you. Our veterans' disability benefit lawyers will make sure you get the Agent Orange VA benefits you deserve.

Agent Orange Agent Orange is the code name for an herbicide and defoliant used by the U.S. military in its Herbicidal Warfare program during the Vietnam War. More than 21,000,000 gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed across South Vietnam. According to the VA, between January 1965 and April 1970, an estimated 2.6 million military personnel who served in Vietnam were potentially exposed to sprayed Agent Orange.

Agent Orange contained one of the most toxic forms of dioxin, which has since been linked to some cancers, birth defects and other heath problems. The VA and many other government departments and agencies have conducted research studies on the possible health effects of Agent Orange exposure on U.S. veterans, and have recognized many ailments associated with exposure to Agent Orange.

This past July, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report found "suggestive but limited evidence" linking Agent Orange exposure to an increased risk of Parkinson's disease and heart disease in Vietnam War veterans. The report also found “sufficient evidence,” a stronger category, of an association between herbicides and hairy-cell leukemia.

The report, written by a 14-member panel appointed by the institute, was based on a review of scientific literature. The IOM's study was the seventh update in a series requested by the VA and mandated by Congress.

VA Changes Agent Orange Policy Based on the IOM study, the VA announced in October 2009 that it would add Parkinson’s disease, B cell leukemias, and ischemic heart disease to the list of those presumed to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange. The VA's decision was part of its effort to reduce obstacles to sick or disabled veterans’ receiving benefits. The department has come under sharp criticism from Congress and veterans groups for long delays in processing disability claims.

The new Agent Orange policy will apply to some 2.1 million veterans who set foot in Vietnam during the war, including those who came after the military stopped using Agent Orange in 1970. It will not apply to sailors on deep-water ships, though the VA says it plans to study the effects of Agent Orange on the Navy.

The decision to add Parkinson's disease, B cell leukemias and ischemic heart disease brings the total number of "presumed" Agent Orange illnesses on the VA's list to 15. Other presumed

Agent Orange illnesses include:

•Acute and Subacute Transient Peripheral Neuropathy
•AL Amyloidosis •Chloracne
•Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
•Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2)
•Hodgkin’s Disease
•Multiple Myeloma
•Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
•Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
•Prostate Cancer
•Respiratory Cancers
•Soft Tissue Sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or Mesothelioma)

Legal Help for Vietnam War Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange If you are a veteran of the Vietnam War, and have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, B cell leukemia or ischemic heart disease, you may be eligible for VA disability and health benefits, even if you were denied before. To find out how the VA's new Agent Orange policy affects you, please contact one of these veterans' disability benefit lawyers by filling out their online form, or call 1-800 LAW INFO (1-800-529-4636) today.

 

 

 

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