October is Agent Orange Awareness Month, and while many of the negative effects of Agent Orange, an herbicide most infamously used by the U.S. Government in Vietnam, have been known for some time. However, many of those impacted by the substance are unaware of the benefits available if they have been exposed.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) website, the U.S. Military poured millions of gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides on trees and vegetation during the Vietnam War. The VA offers an exam for veterans who qualify to determine if they are eligible for benefits. Veterans eligible for the Agent Orange Registry health exam include:
• Veterans who served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975, regardless of length of time.
• Veterans who served aboard smaller river patrol and swift boats that operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam (also known as “Brown Water Veterans”).
• Veterans who served in a unit in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) anytime between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971.
• U.S. Air Force Veterans who served on Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) bases near U-Tapao, Ubon, Nakhon Phanom, Udorn, Takhli, Korat, and Don Muang, near the air base perimeter anytime between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975.
• U.S. Army Veterans who provided perimeter security on RTAF bases in Thailand anytime between Feb. 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975.
• U.S. Army Veterans who were stationed on some small Army installations in Thailand anytime between Feb. 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975. However, the Army Veteran must have been a member of a military police (MP) unit or was assigned a military occupational specialty whose duty placed him or her at or near the base perimeter.
• Veterans who may have been exposed to herbicides during a military operation or as a result of testing, transporting, or spraying herbicides for military purposes.
According to Dick Shambaugh, Team Leader at the VA Center in Johnson City, Tennessee, there are some conditions many veterans do not realize could be connected to Agent Orange.
“There are certain cardiac conditions that were related to Agent Orange,” said Shambaugh. “Those fellows are basically 100 percent service connected.”
The VA website lists a number of conditions that are presumed to be caused by Agent Orange, including:
AL Amyloidosis, Chronic B-cell Leukemias, Chloracne (or similar acneform disease), Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Hodgkin’s Disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Parkinson’s Disease, Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset, Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, Prostate Cancer, Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer), Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma).
Shambaugh stated the first step in checking to see if you are eligible for benefits due to Agent Orange is a simple one.
“They would need to file a claim through the county Veterans’ Services Officer,” Shambaugh said.
Shambaugh mentioned there is a veteran’s group that meets the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at the Harlan National Guard Armory that is open to all veterans.
Veterans with questions concerning Agent Orange may consult the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website at http://www.va.gov/
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde