RecommendationsRecommendPrintReport postJust weeks after accepting claims from veterans filing for three new disabilities linked to Vietnam-era herbicide Agent Orange exposure, the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office in San Diego has issued $8 million in 730 cases.
Up to 200,000 Vietnam Veterans are potentially eligible to receive VA disability through this initiative designed to compensate veterans with B-cell leukemia, Parkinson’s disease or ischemic heart disease.
Veterans with these conditions who stepped foot in Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, are presumed to have contracted them via exposure to Agent Orange and don't need to prove their military service caused their illnesses, according to the VA.
The recognition of the presumptive illness, especially ischemic heart disease, which is common in an aged population, could open the door to tens of thousands seeking compensation. Spouses who lost husbands or wives to these conditions are also in line for awards.
In late October, the VA finalized regulations for the three new disabilities. The VA regional benefit office in San Diego County is the central processing site and has received 5,000 Agent Orange claims from both San Diego County veterans and other regional VA offices.
The herbicide was used widely in Vietnam from 1961 to 1971 to deny the enemy cover in high grass and thick jungle. By some estimates, the United States sprayed 20 million gallons of the defoliate in Southeast Asia.
A concoction of two defoliants, Agent Orange was discovered to be an extremely toxic dioxin and won its name from the striped orange 55-gallon barrels it was shipped in.
Compensating veterans who qualify under these newly recognized conditions is expected to take several months, but all veterans exposed to Agent Orange and suffer from one of the three diseases are urged to submit an application for an award.
VA has offered veterans exposed to Agent Orange access to health care since 1978, and priority medical care since 1981. VA has also given compensation to veterans with medical problems related to Agent Orange since 1985.
Other recognized illnesses under VA's "presumption" rule for Agent Orange are: subacute transient peripheral neuropathy, chloracne, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, diabetes mellitus (Type 2), Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, porphyria cutanea tarda, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, or mesothelioma) and amyloidosis.
Veterans interested in applying for compensation under one of the three new Agent Orange illnesses, should go to fasttrack.va.gov or call 800-827-1000.