VA Publishes Final Regulation to Aid Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange in Korea

January 27, 2011

VA Publishes Final Regulation to Aid Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange in Korea Will Provide Easier Path to Health Care and Benefits

 WASHINGTON – Veterans exposed to herbicides while serving along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Korea will have an easier path to access quality health care and benefits under a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) final regulation that will expand the dates when illnesses caused by herbicide exposure can be presumed to be related to Agent Orange.

 “VA’s primary mission is to be an advocate for Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki “With this new regulation VA has cleared a path for more Veterans who served in the demilitarized zone in Korea to receive access to our quality health care and disability benefits for exposure to Agent Orange.”

Under the final regulation published today in the Federal Register, VA will presume herbicide exposure for any Veteran who served between April 1, 1968, and Aug. 31, 1971, in a unit determined by VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to have operated in an area in or near the Korean DMZ in which herbicides were applied. 

Previously, VA recognized that Agent Orange exposure could only be conceded to Veterans who served in certain units along the Korean DMZ between April 1968 and July 1969. 

In practical terms, eligible Veterans who have specific illnesses VA presumes to be associated with herbicide exposure do not have to prove an association between their illness and their military service.  This “presumption” simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits and ensures that Veterans receive the benefits they deserve.

Click on these links to learn about Veterans’ diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure at http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/diseases.asp and birth defects in children of Vietnam-era Veterans at http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/birth_defects.asp.

VA encourages Veterans with covered service in Korea who have medical conditions that may be related to Agent Orange to submit their applications for access to VA health care and compensation as soon as possible so the agency can begin processing their claims.

Individuals can go to website http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/AO/claimherbicide.htm to get a more complete understanding of how to file a claim for presumptive conditions related to herbicide exposure, as well as what evidence is needed by VA to make a decision about disability compensation or survivors benefits.

Additional information about Agent Orange and VA’s services for Veterans exposed to the chemical is available at www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange.

The regulation is available on the Office of the Federal Register website at http://www.ofr.gov/.

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VA Begins Paying Benefits for New Agent Orange Claims

November 1, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 1, 2010

VA Encourages Affected Vietnam Veterans to File Claims

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun distributing disability benefits to Vietnam Veterans who qualify for compensation under recently liberalized rules for Agent Orange exposure.

“The joint efforts of Congress and VA demonstrate a commitment to provide Vietnam Veterans with treatment and compensation for the long-term health effects of herbicide exposure,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

Up to 200,000 Vietnam Veterans are potentially eligible to receive VA disability compensation for medical conditions recently associated with Agent Orange. The expansion of coverage involves B-cell (or hairy-cell) leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease.

Shinseki said VA has launched a variety of initiatives – both technological and involving better business practices – to tackle an anticipated upsurge in Agent Orange-related claims.

“These initiatives show VA’s ongoing resolve to modernize its processes for handling claims through automation and improvements in doing business, providing Veterans with faster and more accurate decisions on their applications for benefits,” Shinseki said.

Providing initial payments – or increases to existing payments – to the 200,000 Veterans who now qualify for disability compensation for these three conditions is expected to take several months, but VA officials encourage all Vietnam Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and suffer from one of the three diseases to make sure their applications have been submitted.
VA has offered Veterans exposed to Agent Orange special access to health care since 1978, and priority medical care since 1981. VA has been providing disability compensation to Veterans with medical problems related to Agent Orange since 1985.

In practical terms, Veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and who have a “presumed” illness do not have to prove an association between their illnesses and their military service. This “presumption” simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits.

The three new illnesses – B-cell (or hairy-cell) leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease – are added to the list of presumed illnesses previously recognized by VA.

Other recognized illnesses under VA’s “presumption” rule for Agent Orange are:

• Acute and 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

• Soft Tissue Sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or Mesothelioma)

• AL Amyloidosis

Veterans interested in applying for disability compensation under one of the three new Agent Orange presumptives should go to http://www.fasttrack.va.gov or call 1-800-827-1000.

For Frequently Asked Questions see the attachment:
Fast Track FAQ FINAL 102810


Shinseki Defends New Agent Orange Benefits

September 23, 2010

By Rick Maze – Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Sep 23, 2010 16:02:56 EDT

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki says providing Agent Orange-related disability benefits to Vietnam veterans who have heart disease — even though there are many other reasons they might have the ailment — is a decision that errs on the side of veterans because that is the right and legal thing to do.

The decision also has wide-ranging implications for current veterans because it is a sign that VA will act to provide benefits even years after a conflict is over, Shinseki says in written testimony to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

VA published final rules in August to add ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and B-Cell leukemias to the list of ailments presumed to be the result of military service in Vietnam veterans. As a result, beginning as early as Oct. 20, up to 250,000 Vietnam veterans will become eligible for veterans disability compensation and medical care.

Heart disease is the presumptive illness gaining the most attention because it is a common ailment among the elderly who have had no exposure to Agent Orange, but Shinseki defends its inclusion, noting that nine scientific or medical studies showed a link between the exposure between the herbicide widely used in Vietnam and ischemic heart disease. A 1991 law, the Agent Orange Act, requires VA to presume an ailment is caused by military service when there is such evidence.

“Veterans and their families have waited decades while the science has incrementally revealed more about the impact of Agent Orange on Vietnam veterans,” he said. “Not only did our actions follow the statute, but I believe our actions on Agent Orange will be viewed as an indicator of our seriousness and commitment in addressing veterans needs — not only for Vietnam veterans, but for veterans of every generation,” said Shinseki, a retired Army general and a Vietnam veteran.

Presumptions of veterans disabilities being related to military service, even when there could be other causes, is an “important part of the veterans benefits system for the foreseeable future,” he said. “They are powerful tools for promoting efficiency, fairness and justice” and “particularly significant for the efforts of VA and Congress to ensure the fair and expeditious adjudication of benefits claims at a time when claims are increasing in number, in scope and in complexity.”

The Agent Orange saga also holds a lesson for handling current benefits, he said. “The most important lesson I have learned from this process is that we must track the exposures of our service members to toxic chemicals and the environment earlier,” he said. “Such tracking does not get easier or less complicated as time passes.”

Source:  http://www.militarytimes.com/news/2010/09/military-agent-orange-benefits-shinseki-092310/


August 30, 2010
VA Publishes Final Regulation to Aid Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange VA Health Care and Benefits Provided for Many Vietnam Veterans

 

 

WASHINGTON – Veterans exposed to herbicides while serving in Vietnam and other areas will have an easier path to access quality health care and qualify for disability pay under a final regulation published tomorrow in the

“Last October, based on the requirements of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 and the Institute of Medicine’s 2008 Update on Agent Orange, I determined that the evidence provided was sufficient to award presumptions of service connection for these three additional diseases,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “It was the right decision, and the President and I are proud to finally provide this group of Veterans the care and benefits they have long deserved.”

The final regulation follows Shinseki’s determination to expand the list of conditions for which service connection for Vietnam Veterans is presumed. VA is adding Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease and expanding chronic lymphocytic leukemia to include all chronic B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia.

In practical terms, Veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and who have a “presumed” illness don’t have to prove an association between their medical problems and their military service. By helping Veterans overcome evidentiary requirements that might otherwise present significant challenges, this “presumption” simplifies and speeds up the application process.

The Secretary’s decision to add these presumptives is based on the latest evidence provided in a 2008 independent study by the Institute of Medicine concerning health problems caused by herbicides like Agent Orange.

Veterans who served in Vietnam anytime during the period beginning January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975, are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides.

More than 150,000 Veterans are expected to submit Agent Orange claims in the next 12 to 18 months, many of whom are potentially eligible for retroactive disability payments based on past claims. Additionally, VA will review approximately 90,000 previously denied claims by Vietnam Veterans for service connection for these conditions. All those awarded service-connection who are not currently eligible for enrollment into the VA healthcare system will become eligible.

This historic regulation is subject to provisions of the Congressional Review Act that require a 60-day Congressional review period before implementation. After the review period, VA can begin paying benefits for new claims and may award benefits retroactively for earlier periods. For new claims, VA may pay benefits retroactive to the effective date of the regulation or to one year before the date VA receives the application, whichever is later. For pending claims and claims that were previously denied, VA may pay benefits retroactive to the date it received the claim.

VA encourages Vietnam Veterans with these three diseases to submit their applications for access to VA health care and compensation now so the agency can begin development of their claims.

Individuals can go to a website at http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/AO/claimherbicide.htm to get an understanding of how to file a claim for presumptive conditions related to herbicide exposure, as well as what evidence is needed by VA to make a decision about disability compensation or survivors benefits.

Additional information about Agent Orange and VA’s services for Veterans exposed to the chemical is available at http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange.


Agent Orange Information

June 25, 2010

If you believe you are experiencing Agent Orange related health problems, there are some things you should do for a claim with the VA:

(1) Enroll in the Agent Orange Registry.

(2) Ensure you are enrolled in the VA Gulf Coast Health Care System.

You can complete both of these steps by contacting your local VA clinic Patient Advocate. For Pensacola call Rusty Moates at (850) 912-2050 and for Ft. Walton Beach contact Clem Langlois at (850) 609-2703.


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