March 31, 2010

On October 13, 2009, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced his decision to establish presumption of service connection for three additional illnesses (Parkinson's disease, ischemic heart disease, and B cell leukemia) associated with Agent Orange/herbicide exposure in Vietnam. Please see VA&R Bulletins 25-09, dated October 16, 2009, and 27-09, dated November 2, 2009, for additional information.

On March 25, 2010, VA published a proposed regulation in the Federal Register as part of the process to implement the Secretary's decision to add these three diseases to the list of presumptive conditions related to Agent Orange/herbicide exposure. The Secretary determined that there is good cause to limit the public comment period, which is normally 60 days, to 30 days for this proposed rule. Written comments must be received by VA on or before April 26, 2010. A final regulation will be published in the Federal Register after VA reviews all public comments received during the comment period.

The final regulation will affect a large number of Vietnam veterans, estimated to be at least 200,000 veterans. This is an important step forward in ensuring that Vietnam veterans are justly compensated for the adverse effects suffered by exposure to Agent Orange during their service to our country. As discussed in previous bulletins, it is important that service officers file presumptive claims now for these conditions without waiting for the completion of the regulation process. Filing these claims prior to the publication of the final regulation is important for effective purposes and it also allows VA to start the claims development process (conducting VA examinations, requesting supporting evidence, etc.) to allow for timely adjudication once the final regulation has been published.

Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation (VA&R) staff are in the process of reviewing the proposed regulation for public comment. A more detailed VA&R Bulletin containing effective date and other information will be issued following the publication of the final regulation. In the meantime, please direct questions or concerns to Ian de Planque, Assistant Director for Claims Service, VA&R, at or (202) 263-5762.