VA Publishes Changed Agent Orange Policy

demilitarized zone from south korea

by Levi Newman on January 26, 2011

Yesterday, the VA published their new policy that will hopefully add some peace to the recent Agent Orange strife.  Previous policy concerning military members who served near the DMZ between North and South Korea was very limiting.  The only thing clear about it was the dates under which a veteran could claim they were exposed.

Under previous policy, a veteran who believed that his or her illness was related to exposure to Agent Orange had to leap a few hurdles.  Among the requirements was service in pre-specified units known to have served along the DMZ, and only if service was between the dates of April 1968 and July 1969.  Additionally, veterans were required to prove that their health symptoms were definitely caused by exposure to Agent Orange.

The new policy is much more “veteran-friendly.”  Under the new policy, the list of qualifying units has been expanded.  Instead of just a few units, a slightly more liberal application of those which served in or near the DMZ is used.  Additionally, the dates of possible exposure have been dramatically lengthened.  The beginning date remains April 1, 1968, but the end date has been push back several years, until August 31, 1971 to allow for residual contamination in addition to direct exposure.

Erik K. Shinseki, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs stated at the release of this new policy that the, “VA’s primary mission is to be an advocate for Veterans.”  The final part of the policy change gives him a good foundation upon which to make this claim.  Veterans who meet the previous two requirements do not have to prove any service connection to their current health issues.  The VA will from now on simply presume that every service member who meets the above qualifications was definitely exposed to Agent Orange.

Summed up, there are many health afflictions which are known to be caused by exposure to herbicides, any veteran who served along the DMZ during this three year period and has developed one of these health conditions will be qualified to receive health care and compensation from the VA.  They no longer have to prove that their affliction is specifically due to Agent Orange and not some other non-service related cause.  This new regulation also covers veterans who meet all these qualifications whose children have spina bifida.

Of course, to prevent these changes from being too good to be true, the new regulation also includes the wording “unless there is affirmative evidence to establish that the veteran was not exposed to any such agent during that service.”

This policy becomes effective Feb 24, 2011.

Photo thanks to Petirrojo under creative common license on Flickr.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sylvia Bohan January 26, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I have a question — a young friend (femal) of mine – was borned with 1 kidney – here Marine Dad was zapped with agent orange — he has all types of health issues – only to have 1/2 benifts … and young friend has many health issues… and denied help (saying 1 kidney not agent orange caused…. any thought on this issue? Thank you…. .

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Audrey Beebe January 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Slyvia, in an effort to find some information to help you out I used google and tried to find scientific or medical sites that discussed the causes of this birth condition. They call it simply, Solitary Kidney. Unfortunately there is not a whole lot of information out there on the subject with any substantial causes listed. The most conclusive information says that solitary kidney is simply a birth defect that happens when the signals within the cells of the developing embryo do not get sent along properly.

Currently the VA maintains this list
http://bit.ly/9KZ5PO
of diseases that have been proven to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange. There is no scientific research to show that exposure in the parent will cause the birth defect of solitary kidney in the child.

I am sorry that I could not give you evidence that would support your efforts. Hopefully this will help put your mind at ease though.

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Mohammad July 19, 2012 at 7:53 am

They will not drop her insurance. They pralobby hung up from talking to her and had a good laugh over it with their co-workers. Everyone has at least one nutty neighbor. If this neighbor crosses the line, your friend should consider talking with the police about how to protect herself from harassment. We have a neighbor who is convinced that our sump pump hose is flooding her back yard. She has never said a word to us. We found out that she has complained about us 3 times to the city and each time they have investigated and told her that we are doing nothing wrong and are not causing flooding in her backyard. It is her own sump pump hose. Does she believe them? No! Was this answer helpful?

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larry brock March 3, 2011 at 12:20 am

i w as there in feb 68 does this mean im not covered. thanks larry

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Audrey Beebe March 3, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Larry,

The short answer is yes, that means you are not covered under this presumption policy.

The VA does take into consideration proof. If you believe you were affected by Agent Orange during a time not within their set dates, and are able to prove it, they will still consider your claim like any other. Just because you served there outside of those dates does not automatically disqualify your claim.

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Ralph Wilson May 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I served in Korea from Nov. 1967 through Dec. 1969. I went to the DMZ on a visit for sure, and I do not feel I should be required to prove that. Isn’t it logical that a soldier serving in Seoul would visit the DMZ as a tourist or for one reason or another? Isn’t it possible to be exposed to Agent Orange just by visiting the DMZ? I also traveled briefly on assignment to places other than Seoul. Also, the salads we consumed in the mess hall in Seoul were grown in Korea. Isn’t it possible they could have been grown in the DMZ area and contaminated with Agent Orange? Logically, it should not take prolonged exposure to Agent Orange to incur damage from such exposure, therefore just being in the area should constitute presumptive exposure to Agent Orange, especially if ailments caused by Agent Orange are recognized to exist.

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mike abney October 26, 2011 at 11:24 am

I have a question that i hope someone can answer. I had to have open heart surgery with 5 bypasses done. the Dr. told me this was related to Agent Orange. I am a VietNam vet and i submitted a claim to the VA Atlanta,GA office. This claim has been in the rating phase for 3 months. My question is why should an automatic claim take this long and is this normal. It seems to me that they are hoping that i will die before they have to pay me. Any thoughts on this?Is there any info that i can use.

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Catherine stutts March 23, 2012 at 1:58 am

I was born 5-11-75 . My father is covered by the V.A. For exposer to agent orange due to his heart. I was born with a skeletal deformities in my shoulder , esophageal fistula , treacle fistula , I am 4,9 in hight have manic bipolar, take hight blood presser medicine , I’m premenopausal at 34, Have all way had to be in resores classes throughout 1-11 grades in school and never could be in P.E. classes because I was very prone to getting sick ending up in the hospital from a low emunesistume. All documented . Yet because my dad was the one in vietnam not my mom Im not covered by the VA and ever seance I turned 18 no insurance will cover me be cause of preexisting conditions .Never worked so can’t get SS only SSI so I only can 400.00 a month and if I get help money from some one they drop me medically. Help.

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