Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military used more than 19 million gallons of tactical herbicides, including Agent Orange, to clear trees and tropical foliage in Cambodia, Laos and South Vietnam. These herbicides contained traces of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). In his book, Agent Orange on Trial: Mass Toxic Disasters in the Courts, Yale professor Peter H. Schuck, said that TCDD might be “the most toxic molecule ever synthesized by man.” Even microscopic amounts of TCDD can cause serious health problems in animals, including rare cancers and birth defects.
U.S. soldiers were told the herbicide was harmless. However, after returning home, these veterans began to experience health problems. Their wives had greater rates of miscarriage, and their children were born with birth defects. Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides have higher rates of cancer, nerve disorder, skin disease, and digestive problems than the general population.
In 1991, the U.S. Congress passed the Agent Orange Act which allowed the Department of Veterans Affairs to consider certain medical conditions ‘presumptive’ to exposure to Agent Orange or TCDD. Veterans who served in Vietnam are automatically eligible to receive treatment and VA benefits for these conditions.
List of health conditions that are considered “presumptive diseases” associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides:
- AL Amyloidosis: A disease that occurs when the immune system forms chains of protein that can damage organs and cells
- Chronic B-cell Leukemias: Cancers of the white blood cells
- Chloracneand similar acneform diseases if 10 percent disabling: Skin conditions that resemble severe acne that occur within a year of exposure to herbicides
- Diabetes Mellitus Type 2: Adult onset diabetes
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: A cancer of the lymphatic system (pat of the immune system)
- Ischemic Heart Disease: Heart disease that is caused by a reduced supply of blood to the heart
- Multiple Myeloma: A cancer of the white blood cell in bone marrow
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: A group of cancers of the lymphatic system
- Parkinson’s Disease: A disorder of the nervous system that causes shaking and loss of coordination
- Peripheral Neuropathy, Acute and Subacute (if at least 10 percent disabling within one year of herbicide exposure): A nerve problem that causes numbness, tingling and weakness in the limbs and extremities
- Porphyria CutaneaTarda (if at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides): A disease in which the skin thins and blisters when exposed to the sun. It also affects the liver
- Prostate Cancer: Cancer of the prostate
- Respiratory Cancers: Any cancer of the lungs, larynx, trachea, and bronchus
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas (except osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma): Cancers in the soft tissues of the body, including the muscle, fat, lymph nodes, blood, and connective tissue
Vietnam era veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides may be eligible for free screening exams, health care benefits, Social Security disability (SSDI) and veteran’s disability compensation. To learn if you qualify, please contact the Dallas veteran’s disability attorneys at Morgan &Weisbrod at 800-800-6353. You fought for us, let us fight for you.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.