In Vietnam and the Korean demilitarized zone, the United States military used Agent Orange, a powerful herbicide and defoliant, to clear thick jungle and expose the enemy. Unfortunately, some of those in uniform who were exposed to the chemical subsequently suffered from a range of serious illnesses and conditions that have been linked to Agent Orange.
Who Was Exposed to Agent Orange?
The Department of Veterans Affairs assumes that the following people were exposed to Agent Orange:
- Anyone who served in Vietnam from January 9, 1962 – May 7, 1975. This includes veterans who made brief visits to land or who served on ships in Vietnam’s inland waterways.
- Anyone who served in or near the Korean demilitarized zone from April 1, 1968 – August 31, 1971.
If you can prove that you served in these locations during these times and that you were not dishonorably discharged, you do not have to prove that you were exposed to Agent Orange in order to get veterans’ disability benefits for a disease that may develop because of Agent Orange exposure.
You may also recover veterans disability benefits if you can prove that you were exposed to Agent Orange and you served:
- On or near military bases in Thailand during the Vietnam Era
- Where herbicides were tested and stored outside of Vietnam
- As a crew member on a C-123 plane after the Vietnam War
- On a Department of Defense project to test, store, or dispose of herbicides
To file a successful Agent Orange-related disability claim, a veteran must prove where and when he served, he must provide a medical diagnosis of a disease that is linked to Agent Orange exposure, and he must prove that the disease occurred after the exposure.
What Illnesses Are Associated With Agent Orange?
The VA recognizes that the following diseases are related to Agent Orange exposure:
- AL Amyloidosis
- Chronic B-Cell leukemia
- Type 2 diabetes
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Ischemic heart disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Porphyria cutanea tarda
- Prostate cancer
- Respiratory cancers
- Soft tissue sarcoma
A medical diagnosis is required before veterans’ disability benefits will be awarded.
How to Get the Veterans’ Disability Benefits You Deserve
If you believe your illness or disease is linked to your exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam or elsewhere, it is important to speak with a veterans’ disability attorney regarding your case. While a connection between your service and your illness may be presumed, your disability benefits are not automatic. Please contact us today via this website or by phone for more information about how to protect your rights and fair recovery of benefits.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.