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January 02, 2010
VIETNAM Veterans Military Update: Law Expands Vietnam Veterans’ Benefits
Military Update: Law expands veterans’ benefits
The Department of Veterans Affairs will issue a final rule to claim adjudicators to presume three more diseases of Vietnam veterans, including heart disease, were caused by exposure to Agent Orange.
The rule, expected to be published soon, will make almost any veteran who set foot in Vietnam, and is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, B cell leukemia or ischemic heart disease (known also as coronary artery disease) eligible for disability compensation and VA medical care. The exception would be if credible evidence surfaces of a non-service cause for the ailment.
Katie Roberts, VA press secretary, said no estimates will be available on numbers of veterans impacted or the potential cost to VA until after the rule change takes effect sometime this year. But the National Association for Uniformed Services was told by a VA official that up to 185,000 veterans could become eligible for benefits, and the projected cost to VA might reach $50 billion, said Win Reither, a retired colonel on the association’s executive board.
The association also advised members that VA, to avoid aggravating its claims backlog, intends to “accept letters from family physicians supporting claims for Agent Orange-related conditions.” It said thousands of widows whose husbands died of Agent Orange disabilities also will be eligible for retroactive benefits and VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
“This is huge,” said Ronald Abrams, co-director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program. His group has represented veterans in Agent Orange lawsuits for the last 25 years. The non-profit law group publishes the “Veterans Benefits Manual,” a 1,900-page guide for veterans’ advocates to navigate the maze for VA claims, appeals and key court decisions.
Abrams said he can’t guess how many more thousands of veterans previously denied disability claims, or how many thousands more who haven’t filed claims yet, will be eligible for benefits. But numbers, particularly those with heart disease, will be very large, he suggested.
All of the veterans “who have been trying to link their heart condition to a service-connected condition won’t have to do it now if they’re Vietnam vets,” Abrams said. For VA, it will mean “a significant amount of money — and many, many, many people helped.”
Change of direction
The excitement over expansion of benefits for Vietnam veterans, and worry by some within the Obama administration over cost, flows from an announcement last October by VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki.
He said three categories would be added to the list of diseases the VA presumes were caused by Agent Orange. Veterans with the presumptive Agent Orange ailments can get disability compensation if they can show they made even a brief visit to Vietnam from 1962 to 1975. With a presumptive illness, claim applicants don’t have to prove, as other claimants do, a direct association between their medical condition and military service.
Shinseki said he based his decision on work of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. VA contracts with the institute to gather veterans’ health data and investigate links between diseases and toxic herbicide used in Vietnam to destroy vegetation and expose enemy positions.
In a speech last July, Shinseki, former Army chief of staff and a wounded veteran of Vietnam, expressed frustration that “40 years after Agent Orange was last used in Vietnam, this secretary is still adjudicating claims for presumption of service-connected disabilities tied to its toxic effects.” VA and the Defense Department should have conducted conclusive studies earlier on presumptive disabilities from Agent Orange, he suggested.
“The scientific method and the failure to advocate for the veteran got in the way of our processes,” Shinseki bluntly concluded.
He said VA “must do better reviews of illnesses that may be connected to service, and we will. Veterans who endure health problems deserve timely decisions based on solid evidence.”
John Miterko, chairman of government affairs for Vietnam Veterans of America until last October:
“If you look at the Vietnam veteran population, the diseases we’ve contracted and the mortality rate, the only group dying at a faster rate are the World War II veterans,” Miterko said. “We’re picking up diseases by our 60s that we shouldn’t be getting until our late 70s, early 80s.” Miterko doesn’t believe anyone can estimate how many veterans will benefit from the new presumptive diseases. VA will continue to process claims individually, he said, and likely won’t be accepting Agent Orange as the cause of heart disease for someone “who has smoked for 40 years and is morbidly obese. Common sense is going to have to prevail, as well.”
Joe Violante, legislative director for Disabled American Veterans:
Violante praised the decision. But he said VA faces a “logistical nightmare” in trying to find veterans turned down on earlier claims. A VA official told Violante, he said, that cost of the search could be part of that nightmare.
Wild Thing's comment...........
Millions of Vietnam War veterans have seen their health ruined because of exposure to Agent Orange. After years of denying its health affects they are finally doing something. FINALLY!
The list of the side effects of Agent Orange is long !
If you have never been to Vietnam I can tell you that the colors there of the various greens are different then anywhere I have ever seen. But on those leaves, in the foliage was poison for our troops. In the air, you name it.........poison !
The planes spraying Agent Orange would circle back and forth, brushing and spraying the troops, the foliage, and also the water supply.
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.
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).
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)
•Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
•Soft Tissue Sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or Mesothelioma)
Posted by Wild Thing at January 2, 2010 12:27 PM
Thanks Chrissie, it's long overdue, now that a lot of us are dying like flies.
Hmmnn, how many of us have or have had the mentioned symptoms?
You did good but here is some more information:
Type 1 Diabetes
* Frequent urination «
* Unusual thirst «
* Extreme hunger
* Unusual weight loss
* Extreme fatigue and Irritability «
Type 2 Diabetes*
* Any of the type 1 symptoms
* Frequent infections «
* Blurred vision «
* Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal «
* Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet «
* Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections «
*Often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptom
Diabetes «. Hypertension « is strongly associated with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2. Kidney damage (diabetic nephropathy) is generally the cause of high blood pressure in people with diabetes.
Kidney Disease. Kidney disease is the most common cause of secondary hypertension, particularly in older people. In addition to diabetic nephropathy, many other types of kidney diseases can cause hypertension. Renal artery stenosis involves the narrowing of the renal artery and is usually caused by atherosclerosis. Other types of kidney disease associated with hypertension are polycystic kidney disease and renal parenchymal disease.
Coarctation of the Aorta. Coarctation of the aorta is a birth defect that causes narrowing of the aorta, the main artery of the heart.
Endocrine Disorders. Adrenal tumors (pheochromocytoma, aldosteronism), thyroid disorders, and Cushing syndrome can all cause secondary hypertension.
The VA denies claims for Hypertension related damage, yet it often is the result of the above mentioned disorders. How about that rash that just wouldn't go away, that subcutanious 'fatty tumor' that has been declared benign, the optical aneurysms, those leg cramps that bring you from a graveyard dead sleep to wide awake. The unquenched fire of neuralgia. Night sweats, cold feet, the numbness like wearing wet socks all the time. Sticking yourself 5-6 times a day to check glucose levels, the 4 to 6 insulin injections every day, the monthly and quarterly exams. Dying is easy, living is very hard when you have lost all hope and are sliding into deaths maw. Reach out and help that poor SOB because the rest of the nation doesn't give a rat's ass about them.
Then these pompous bastards in Congress wonder why so many of my brothers suck on a piece of cold steel.
Posted by: Jack at January 2, 2010 03:23 PM
my dad died in 1979 from Cancer caused by Agent Orange. He was in the Marines (35 year veteran) and was working in Da Nang (then) and he talked about how the street trees were sprayed weekly with Agent orange to deter snipers....sadly he was exposed....
Posted by: Dani at January 2, 2010 07:33 PM
I Corps or at least about 2/3's of it was saturated all the way up Rt. 1 and out Rt. 9. This may explain some things.
Posted by: Mark at January 2, 2010 07:35 PM
My sincere condolences for your father Dani.
Posted by: Jack at January 2, 2010 08:10 PM
What the government did to Vietnam Veterans concerning Agent Orange, they're doing now to Gulf War Veterans with the problems they're experiencing.
Posted by: BobF at January 2, 2010 10:34 PM
Jack, thank you for the added information, I really appreciate it. This is so important to let
everyone know about.
Posted by: Wild Thing at January 2, 2010 11:39 PM
Dani, I am so sorry about your Dad, Agent Orange
was the second war our guys have had to fight.
Posted by: Wild Thing at January 2, 2010 11:42 PM
Mark, thanks for sharing that. I sure hope
this helps and it gets shared by a lot of the
Vets so everyone finds out about it.
Posted by: Wild Thing at January 2, 2010 11:46 PM
BobF., yes our government has been poisoning
our troops from both wars.
Posted by: Wild Thing at January 2, 2010 11:49 PM
Dad worked in the missile assembly area at various Nike sites from '59-'79. The W31 nuke warhead was switchable from 2-40kt yield by changing out the "pit". I would assume that the assembly folks would be doing this as opposed to the ordnance people given that it would need to be done expediently. Being that it is all classified, I'll never know the risk of radiation exposure he faced. He died of mantle-cell lymphoma in '02. He had much joint damage in his hands and elbows which he suffered with several years before he died. Why it has taken so long for the government to address the Agent Orange problem just defies belief. It's like Exxon delaying reparations for the spill in Alaska. Delay until most have died, then pay.
Posted by: Jim at January 3, 2010 08:25 AM
Dioxins were spread all over Vietnam. This is one area where even the papershufflers at Long Binh can legitimately claim to be affected. It is now 40 years after the fact. Like Jim states, the govt. has put it off until many have died and most are old.
Posted by: TomR at January 3, 2010 11:50 AM
I served a year in 1967-1968 and am now turning 63 next month. So far, just a little high blood pressure, however my Dad was in the Army and went over after I came back. He died 10 years ago from multiple problems related to Agent Orange, of course back then not much was said about it. I am glad this is now being brought more out in the open and more help is available for our troops. Thank you so much for keeping us up to date.
Posted by: Old Soldier at January 3, 2010 11:58 AM
Thanks. I copied my Marine Corps network with your heads up. Good of you to pass the word.
Posted by: Billy Ray at January 3, 2010 06:51 PM
Does this new decision mean that the VA will accept a claim for hypertension or high cholesterol as ischemic heart disease?
I have not been able to find a definitive answer on this
Posted by: Bill Crawford at January 15, 2010 02:01 PM