Agent Orange and Your VA Claim

By Raymond Gustavson

After I retired from the VA as a rating specialist (RVSR) in October 2003, I began reading dozens of complaints on the Internet from veterans who had had their Agent Orange claims denied. I also made note of their criticisms about the VA’s foot dragging in getting new disabilities approved. I’m not here to defend the VA or to apologize for its shortcomings. What I want to do is help you understand the VA claims process by explaining it in plain English. So, let’s get started.

If you served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1971, as I did, there is a pretty good chance that you were exposed to Agent Orange. The VA acknowledges that some 20 million gallons of herbicides were sprayed across South Vietnam in an attempt to destroy foliage used to conceal enemy forces and supply lines. Spraying was also intended to deny access to agricultural crops used by the enemy. Recently, I tried to determine exactly where all this spraying occurred. I had always thought it was in the north along the DMZ or along the Laos-Cambodian borders. I was wrong. Dead wrong. The chart I found looked like one of those modern artworks where the painter takes his bucket and throws it at the canvas. It was a map of Vietnam with long streaks covering the entire country from top to bottom.

Agent-Orange related conditions.

The VA has determined that a positive association exists between exposure to herbicides and the subsequent development of 11 conditions.
• Chloracne
• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• Soft tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
• Hodgkin’s disease
• Porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT)
• Multiple myeloma
• Acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy
• Prostate cancer
• Respiratory cancers (cancers of the lung, bronchus, larynx and trachea)
• Type 2 diabetes (also known as Type II diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes)
• Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

Non Agent-Orange related conditions

Of note, there are numerous conditions that are not associated with Agent Orange. Service connection for them must, by law, be denied.
• Hepatobiliary cancers
• Nasal and nasopharyngeal cancer
• Bone cancers
• Breast cancer
• Cancers of the female reproductive system
• Urinary bladder cancer
• Renal cancer
• Testicular cancer
• Leukemia (other than chronic lymphocytic leukemia)
• Reproductive effects (abnormal sperm parameters and infertility)
• Parkinson’s disease
• Chronic persistent peripheral neuropathy
• Lipid and lipoprotein disorders
• Gastrointestinal and digestive disease
(other than diabetes mellitus)
• Immune-system disorders
• Circulatory disorders

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