VA Expands Coverage for Vets Exposed to Agent Orange – But Is It Enough?

| January 29, 2011

Veterans exposed to herbicides while serving in Korea will receive improved access to health care and benefits under a VA final regulation that expands the dates of illnesses presumed to be related to Agent Orange.

Although VetsFirst appreciates the VA stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility, we feel that it must go further in addressing the health care needs of Vets exposed to these toxic chemicals.

Under the final regulation, the VA will presume herbicide exposure for any veteran who served between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971, in a unit determined to have operated in an area in or near the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) in which herbicides were applied. Previously, the VA only covered veterans who served between April 1968 and July 1969.

But the real question isn’t when they stopped applying Agent Orange and other herbicides along the DMZ, but how long these agents are toxic? There are areas of Vietnam that are still contaminated with Dioxin. How do we know the same is not true in Korea?

Until the VA or the U.S. Government conducts meaningful studies, we will not have the answer to this question. Is this regulation fair to our veterans who served along the DMZ in Korea? Based on what we know now, the answer is we do not know. But we find it hard to believe that Agent Orange became inert on August 31, 1971, and that veterans weren’t exposed to it after this date.

Vets with covered service in Korea who may have Agent Orange-related medical conditions should submit their applications for access to VA health care and compensation as soon as possible.

To learn more about filing a claim for VA benefits, visit
http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/AO/claimherbicide.htm.

Have questions? Ask VetsFirst

Learn more about veterans’ diseases associated with Agent Orange.

Additional information is also available at www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange.

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