Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Agent Orange Benefits Extended to More Veterans

From the VA press release (October 13, 2009):
VA Extends “Agent Orange” Benefits to More Veterans
Parkinson’s Disease, Two Other Illnesses Recognized

WASHINGTON – Relying on an independent study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki decided to establish a service-connection for Vietnam Veterans with three specific illnesses based on the latest evidence of an association with the herbicides referred to Agent Orange.
The illnesses affected by the recent decision are B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia; Parkinson’s disease; and ischemic heart disease.

Used in Vietnam to defoliate trees and remove concealment for the enemy, Agent Orange left a legacy of suffering and disability that continues to the present.  Between January 1965 and April 1970, an estimated 2.6 million military personnel who served in Vietnam were potentially exposed to sprayed Agent Orange.
In practical terms, Veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and who have a “presumed” illness don’t have to prove an association between their illnesses and their military service.  This “presumption” simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits.

The Secretary’s decision brings to 15 the number of presumed illnesses recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  

“We must do better reviews of illnesses that may be connected to service, and we will,” Shinseki added. “Veterans who endure health problems deserve timely decisions based on solid evidence.”
Other illnesses previously recognized under VA’s “presumption” rule as being caused by exposure to herbicides during the Vietnam War are:

·         Chloracne
·         Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
·         Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2)
·         Hodgkin’s Disease
·         Multiple Myeloma
·         Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
·         Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
·         Prostate Cancer
·         Respiratory Cancers, and 

Additional information about Agent Orange and VA’s services and programs for Veterans exposed to the chemical are available at www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange.

More has to be done, such as recognizing our Blue Water Agent Orange Survivors, but at least this is progress.

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