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Agent Orange: Answering the questions

Agent Orange: Answering the questions

What are the Presumptions within VA associated with Agent Orange?

The Presumption of Exposure. VA concedes that any veteran who set foot on the ground - the so called "Boots on the Ground" rule - has been exposed to the chemical herbicide Agent Orange between the dates of January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975. The presumption of exposure relieves the veteran of the need to provide direct proof of being exposed to Agent Orange. Simply having boots on the ground during the affected period is enough for VA to concede exposure.

Recently, VA has liberalized the means of proving exposure for Navy veterans. For a long time there has been debate as to whether or not "Blue Water" Navy veterans should qualify for exposure. The American Legion has a resolution stating that the presumption of exposure should apply to Navy veterans who served on ships located in the territorial waters of Vietnam.

Although VA maintains that Blue Water Navy veterans must prove they actually set foot on ground in Vietnam in order to be afforded the presumption of exposure, it has relaxed restrictions in two instances. So called "Brown Water" Navy veterans, those veterans whose vessels traveled upriver into the inland waterways of Vietnam, are eligible for this presumption and VA is compiling a database of all vessels which meet this qualification.

 Furthermore, Blue Water Navy veterans whose vessels actually tied up to a dock in Vietnam no longer need to prove that they disembarked from the ships, such as for shore leave. The simple act of docking in Vietnam is enough to entitle a veteran to this presumption.

The Presumption of Service Connection. VA concedes service connection for certain diseases and disorders found to be associated with Agent Orange without the need for a separate medical opinion linking the condition to exposure to the herbicide. Normally in the process of service connection, a veteran must have a medical opinion (called a "nexus opinion") linking their present medical condition with an incident in service. The VA maintains a list of conditions which qualify for a presumption of service connection related to Agent Orange here

VA regularly adds new conditions to the list of diseases and conditions for which there is a presumption of service connection. VA is in the process of adding three new conditions to this list.

What are the New Conditions that VA has added to the Agent Orange presumptive list?

In October 2009, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki made a decision to add three illnesses to the current list of diseases for which service connection for Vietnam Veterans is presumed. The illnesses are B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia; Parkinson's disease; and ischemic heart disease. On March 25, 2010, VA published a proposed regulation providing for the implementation of the addition of these diseases on the presumptive list.

What is the difference between a Proposed Regulation and a Final Regulation?

The procedure for updating the Code of Federal Regulations requires VA to publish in the Federal Register a proposed regulation for a period of public comment. The procedure generally calls for a period of comment lasting 60 calendar days from the publishing of the proposed regulation, followed by a final regulation taking into account the public commentary 30 days after the public comment period has ended for a total time period of no more than 90 days from the publishing of the proposed regulation. In this case, VA has decided to provide only a 30-day period for public comment, for the stated purpose of "...facilitate[ing] expeditious issuance of final regulations and to promote rapid action on affected benefits claims..."

How is a condition added to VA's list of presumptive disorders?

Every two years, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reviews the body of peer reviewed scientific data about a wide variety of medical conditions and determines what, if any, causative link can be made between these conditions and the herbicide Agent Orange. The findings of the IOM are published in the "Veterans and Agent Orange Update".

Conditions can be found to fall under several categories including Sufficient Evidence of an Association, Limited or Suggestive Evidence of an Association, and Inadequate or Insufficient Evidence to Determine an Association. Conditions previously found to be classified in a category can be upgraded to a higher category if later peer reviewed research supports the classification.

In the report Veterans and Agent Orange Update: 2008, IOM found B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia to meet the criteria for Sufficient Evidence of an Association, while Parkinson's Disease and Ischemic Heart Disease met the criteria for Limited or Suggestive Evidence of an Association.

VA is required to respond to the reports from the IOM, and to determine from the reports whether the addition of any condition mentioned in the reports merits addition to the list of presumptive service connected disabilities.

What, exactly, is "Ischemic Heart Disease"?

Ischemic Heart Disease is defined by VA's proposed regulation as "...a condition in which there is an inadequate supply of blood and oxygen to a portion of the myocardium; it typically occurs when there is an imbalance between myocardial oxygen supply and demand. Therefore, for purposes of this regulation, the term ``IHD'' includes, but is not limited to, acute, subacute, and old myocardial infarction; atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease including coronary artery disease (including coronary spasm) and coronary bypass surgery; and stable, unstable and Prinzmetal's angina. Since the term refers only to heart disease, it does not include hypertension or peripheral manifestations of arteriosclerosis such as peripheral vascular disease or stroke..." This is the proposed definition, and subject to change in the final regulation.

I believe I have one of these conditions, what should I do?

If you have not already filed a claim for service connection for one of these disabilities and you have a medical diagnosis of the condition, The American Legion recommends filing for service connection with VA. Delays could result in a loss of back pay benefits, and could result in further delays in the processing of your claim. For help in filing a claim, you should contact your American Legion department service officer (DSO), contact information for a DSO in your home state can be found here.

The American Legion strongly recommends that veterans who believe that they are entitled to service connection for one of these conditions contact their DSO as soon as possible.

More in Veterans Benefits Center

 

Davidd

May 29, 2014 - 8:06pm

Deck logs from U.S.S. Dubuque 1968 missing. Redeployed 1st Cav latter part of 68 near Saigon. In the river the night Westchester County got hit. Unable to show any evidence we were there.

Romeo Nicolas

December 4, 2013 - 5:48pm

I am a US Navy Vietnam Veteran from 1966 to 1972. My ships are USS Kearsarge CV 33 and USS Coral Sea CV 43 during the war. I spent almost 6 years in Tonkin Gulf and Danang. The VA continue denying my claim for Agent Orange after my treatment at Chesapeake General Hospital for PSA through radiation. That was 2003 when I was detected with PSA and 2004 when I apply for it. The case was this...I received my military transfer order and checked out from CV 43 14th May 1972 (Justified), flew from the flight deck of the ship to Danang Airforce Base, arrived in Danang the same date, waited for another flight to Cubi Point Philippines (unjustified) then took my flight from Clark Air Force Base to California, made it on time to my new duty station FASOTRAGRUPAC (Justified). My question was since I cannot completed justifying how I get into my new duty station, why a countless denial was all I received from them? How did I get to my new station on time? The also have a case approve in which scenario was same as mine. The only slight difference, he came from California and reported to USS Bon Home Richard. This sailor died of PSA but the wife pursued the case and got it. Here, I'm 75 years old and still like fighting another war with VA since 2004. I was so tired taking maintenace pills every day.

KenW

October 29, 2013 - 3:53pm

I was in Da Nang harbor in 1965 on USS Hull and have some heart problems and have been turned down for AO. Something needs to be done so we can get some help before we all die off. Please call you congress reps and raise hell about this. I have.

daklander

May 18, 2011 - 9:20am

Both the Sanctuary and Repose are on the list of ships presumed contaminated by Agent Orange.

Robert Stinnette

March 25, 2011 - 8:34pm

Flew as a C-141A Loadmaster from 1970-1974, into and out of Vietnam, but because I was never "Permanent Party" stationed in-country I have to prove "Boots on the Ground" and amazingly any records that the Air Force has on me being "in-country" cannot be found. The DOD has records on everything but they are not willing to give up any information when its a "liability to the Country". It's also a shame that most of the people that we must beg for our records are non-military civil-servants who really just don't care.

BARBARA485

February 27, 2011 - 9:55am

MY HUSBAND WAS DEPLOYED TO GUAM 1967-1968 AT ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE. IN 2001 WAS DIAGNOSED WITH NON-HODGKIN LYMPHOMA AGGRESSIVE B CELL STAGE 4 AND TYPE II DIABETES .WHAT HELP DOES VETS OF GUAM HAVE?

daklander

May 18, 2011 - 9:34am

NON-HODGKIN LYMPHOMA is a covered disease if you husband served on any US Navy Vessel in Vietnam Service. It is not considered by the VA as an Agent Orange disease but is covered and a presumed disease just by his service on board. I beleive the VSM is one of the requirements. Get in touch with one of the AL VSOs for help.

Glory2222

February 25, 2011 - 7:57pm

How can I get a ship added on the list that is not listed under Blue Water presumption of exposure?

daklander

May 18, 2011 - 9:38am

If your ship was in a port or harbor, or if it entered a river, so that it was inland of the coastline, it is considered in "inland waterways" and eligible for direct exposure as presumption. If your ship moored, docked or anchored in a port or harbor, you are considered to have been "in country" and eligible for direct exposure as presumption. Go Here: bluewaternavy.org/strausspack.htm Also send an email to: navy at bluewaternavy.org . Provide month and year you qualified (either in port or up river.) A database is being compiled. If have deck logs you would like to supply for others who need them but cannot afford to purchase them, you can send them using the file transfer tool here: vasvw.org/Decklogs.htm . Once I have them I'll also share them with other BWN Veterans sites.There are several of us compiling a database of decklogs just for that.

Glory2222

February 25, 2011 - 7:40pm

A long time there has been debate as to whether or not "Blue Water" Navy veterans should qualify for exposure. The American Legion has a resolution stating that the presumption of exposure should apply to Navy veterans who served on ships located in the territorial waters of Vietnam. Although VA maintains that Blue Water Navy veterans must prove they actually set foot on ground in Vietnam in order to be afforded the presumption of exposure, it has relaxed restrictions in two instances. So called "Brown Water" Navy veterans, those veterans whose vessels traveled upriver into the inland waterways of Vietnam, are eligible for this presumption and VA is compiling a database of all vessels which meet this qualification.

Buckeyebill

December 15, 2010 - 1:41pm

The forgotten Navy!! These two hospital ships have been completely igored by the Navy, VA and yes you. The Sanctuary and Repose were non-rotating hospital ships which operated from DaNang, Hue/Quang Tri and China Beach. Not Blue Water Navy not Brown Water Navy but Agent Orange exposed YES!!Exposed daily for years so the Brown Water/Blue Water Navy concept is flawed at the very least. All that is asked is for some one to do the reseach............

daklander

May 18, 2011 - 9:28am

Both the Sanctuary and Repose are on the list of ships presumed contaminated by Agent Orange.

Rick Dingwall

April 28, 2014 - 10:26pm

I just met a guy at the VA that's being treated for cancer due to AO exposure and he told me that his best friend died from AO and he was stationed on a carrier in Tonkin Gulf. He was told that because of wind drift you could be exposed within a 23 mile radius of dispersion. Our DDG got real close many times while shelling and recog. Right now at 61 I have my teeth falling out, sleep apnea, my eye blacks out, celiac and a host of other ailments, most of which are on the AO list. Should I get checked out?

William J. Cooper

August 23, 2010 - 4:54pm

I was with C company 1st Bn.32nd Inf. 7th Inf. Div. DMZ Korea. The area we were in was spray everyday for three months in the spring of 1969 along the fence and area south about 150 to 300 yards. we ran patrols and had guard duty in this area everyday and night. After being out of the service for 40 years, I found out it was agent orange. If we took a bath in it everyday for months you think they would give us the same thing they give the Vienam vets get for putting there foot on the ground in Nam. We got shot at, and in my Company we had 4 men killed in a Truck ambush.Mybe they use some other type of agent orange then they use in Nam.

jjmatej

June 22, 2010 - 5:50pm

I am a Navy vietnam veteran who served on the USS Klondike (AR22) during the tet counteroffensive in Mar 1969 to April 1969. We repaired a river boat and received enemy fire. We were anchored offshore in VungTau. I know for a fact that we were ferried in liberty boats for shore liberty. Is there anyway to prove boots on the ground for agent orange compensation. I am suffering from heart disease and coronary artery disease. Thank you John Matej jjmatej@comcast.net

walterkelly

May 10, 2010 - 10:44am

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE 3 NEW THING THE V A HAS SAID THAT AGENT ORANGE COUSE DID THEY PASS THIS LAW SO WE Can GET BEnIFITS or are they waiting for all OF US to die so they don t have to pay or take care of us THANK YOU WALTER H KELLY WKELLY1@COMCAST.NET

daklander

May 18, 2011 - 9:31am

Only good for "boots on ground" and "brown water/inland water".

wpwolfster

April 14, 2010 - 11:07am

I served in the Air force and was stationed in Thialand, at the Utapoa Air Base in 69 and 70. While I was there they put in extra security and so had to move the jungle back and put up extra wire barricades and flares and mines. Agent Orange was what was used to clear out the jungle. But I still can not get AO disabilty cause I was not in country Vietnam. Yes I do have medical problems.

hgerac

April 8, 2010 - 11:16pm

I just had radical Prostate Cancer Surgery. Made 3 cruises to the Gulf of Tonkin from 1971 - 1974. Spent roughly 16 to 20 months in the Gulf on USS Bainbridge. Breathed the air, drank the water yet still not eligible according to VA. Amazed at the logic that Blue Water Navy could not be affected because no feet on the ground.

Frank Henry

February 25, 2014 - 11:25pm

1. Does your doctor suspect your condition was caused/triggered by agent orange. 2. What was your duties on the Bainbridge. 3. Did you spend any time on land in the Vietnam theater for liberty or shore patrol duty or what ever. 4. Was the Bainbrige in the pat of prevailing wind/weather originating from the Vietnam theater.

drobi720

April 8, 2010 - 9:43pm

I asked the question ot the legion which I am member, to which they only answered half of the question, then when I futhrered the question I have been ignored.Wow what an oganaztion to belong with (wrong). I was in okinawa in 75-76 in may when quipment was commming back from vietnam. cnatamanated with mud that was contaimanted with agent orage and canvason the vheiles. also there was agent orange in use in okinawa a that time the nothern and southern part of the island. Im like many other vets that have the same disease that them that was in veitnam have acociation to. now you do know to get presumtous claim you only have had to get off in the tar matt of step on the land and then back on this qulifies your status. not if you acutaly was incontact with this chemical.seems to me this like other organztions only go through the simple path not looking outside of the box or challanging th V.A. on its directions. we vete need an organaztion that looks ALL veterans. shame on you legion.

vietnamsailor

April 8, 2010 - 4:20pm

It is great to see the VA is finally working on the Agent Orange problems. But not only do we have veterans who were classifed as Blue water sailors,but what about the people in supply who handled the Agent Orange in the transportation of it to Vietnam? I know of several veterans who suffer from the same djseases and were never in Vietnam but they hancled it here State side,yet they cannot get any disability rating from the VA. They also need our help.

Raymond Taylor

April 2, 2010 - 11:02am

All of the articles keep saying Vietnam, I was in Korea, have Claim with VA,,they turned me down because I was not in Vietnam. So have appealed and sent back buddy letter stating I was on DMZ with him March 1968-July 1968 . 40 years is hard to find Vets you where stationed with. I have non Hoskin Lythomia, My records say I was in Korea ,but when I went DMZ, they didn't fill out that part, so I had to prove where I was at. Waiting on reply for VA. The VA Hospitl in Little Rock, Ar has been very good to me.

daklander

May 18, 2011 - 9:37am

Some areas of Korea are now presumed so contact a VSO, AL's VSO's are usually very good, to help you with your claim.

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