Agent Orange is a herbicide used notoriously during the Vietnam War. From 1961 to after 1971, military members sprayed more than 20 million gallons of Agent Orange on trees and vegetation.
Exposure to Agent Orange caused numerous diseases and long-term health problems for millions of U.S. veterans. Navy veterans who served on open sea ships off the shore of Vietnam during the Vietnam War are referred to as “blue water Navy veterans.”
The Blue Water Navy (BWN) Vietnam veterans Act of 2019 (PL 116-23) extended the presumption of herbicide exposure, such as Agent Orange, to Veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.
Beginning Jan.1, 2020, veterans who served as far as 12 nautical miles from the shore of Vietnam, or who had service in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides, such as Agent Orange, and may be entitled to service connected disability compensation for any of the 14 conditions related to herbicide exposure.
According to the Veterans Administration, contact with Agent Orange likely causes several illnesses (referred to as Agent Orange presumptive diseases). If you are a qualified Vietnam Blue Water Veteran, you may be eligible for disability compensation or benefits if you had contact with Agent Orange while serving in the military and now have one or more of these illnesses:
Chronic B-cell leukemia; Hodgkin’s disease; Multiple myeloma; Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; Prostate cancer; Respiratory cancers (including lung cancer); Soft tissue sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma); AL amyloidosis; Chloracne (or other types of acneiform disease like it); Diabetes mellitus type 2; Ischemic heart disease; Parkinson’s disease; Peripheral neuropathy, early onset; and Porphyria cutanea tarda.
If you have an illness you believe is caused by contact with Agent Orange—and you don’t see it listed, you can still file a claim for disability compensation.
You’ll need to provide scientific and medical evidence that the condition is related to exposure to Agent Orange or show that the problem started during—or got worse because of—your military service.
Scientific proof may include an article from a medical journal or a published research study. Eligible veterans may receive health care benefits and disability compensation.
Anthony Bradley is with The Bradley Law Firm, PLLC. The firm specializes in estate and elder law planning and veterans benefits.