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What Are the Current Diseases and Disabilities Caused by Agent Orange?

Posted by Berry Law on February 11, 2022 in Agent Orange

Few substances are as controversial as Agent Orange. We are still seeing its effects on native populations and those who served in the military when it was used on people today.

One of the main questions about Agent Orange is what kind of diseases it correlates with. 

Some disabilities are recognized by the VA to be connected to Agent Orange, while others are not. This article will go over the list of presumptive Agent Orange conditions and the benefits you can receive if you have one. 

What Is Agent Orange?

Many are unfamiliar with Agent Orange. During the Vietnam War, the US military sprayed herbicides over the forests in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos to clear trees and crops. The main herbicide used was Agent Orange, which contained a harmful chemical known as dioxin.

In the aftermath of the war, the effects of Agent Orange started to surface. Many people in countries like Vietnam had children with serious birth effects. Even Vietnam Veterans, when they came back home after their military service, were having children with birth defects and suffering from illnesses themselves.

When the military used Agent Orange, many did not know its effects on Vietnam-era Veterans. Even today, many are not sure what the reaches of Agent Orange were. However, there are many diseases that the VA presumes as being related to Agent Orange.

If you are suffering from any of the diseases or disabilities we discuss and served in the Vietnam War when the US military used Agent Orange, you may be entitled to benefits from the VA.

What Are the Effects of Agent Orange?

The VA presumes that an extensive list of conditions is connected to Agent Orange. 

Presumptive Conditions Related to Agent Orange

Go over this list of presumptive conditions if you served during the Vietnam War and are seeking compensation and health care benefits from the effects of Agent Orange.

  • Bladder Cancer: Cancer that affects the bladder, where urine is stored.
  • Hodgkin’s Disease: A type of cancer that causes the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen to progressively enlarge and become anemic.
  • Ischemic Heart Disease: A condition in which blood supply to the heart is not adequate, causing chest pain.
  • Multiple Myeloma: A type of cancer in the plasma cells, which is a form of white blood cells in the bone marrow.
  • Parkinson’s Disease: A disorder of the nervous system which affects muscle movement.
  • Parkinsonism: A condition with Parkinson’s-like symptoms, including muscle stiffness, tremor, slow movement, and impaired speech.
  • Prostate Cancer: Cancer that affects the prostate, which is extremely common among men.
  • Respiratory Cancer (including lung cancer): Cancer that affects the lungs, trachea, bronchus, or larynx.
  • Hyperthyroidism: A condition that causes the thyroid to not produce enough hormones.
  • AL Amyloidosis: A rare condition that is caused when an abnormal protein enters tissues or organs.
  • Hypothyroidism: In this condition, the thyroid gland does not produce enough critical hormones. 
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: A cancer that impacts the lymphatic system. 
  • Soft Tissue Sarcomas: A group of different types of cancers that affect body tissues like muscle, connective tissues, and lymph vessels. This excludes mesothelioma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and osteosarcoma. 
  • Peripheral Neuropathy, Early Onset: Usually appearing in the hands and feet, this is weakness, pain, and numbness from nerve damage. 
  • Chloracne: A rare skin condition that presents as an eruption of blackheads and cysts. 
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda: A condition that causes blistering skin lesions on the skin exposed to the sun. 
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type 2: A condition that impacts the way the body processes sugar. 
  • Chronic B-Cell Leukemia: A form of cancer that impacts the blood and bone marrow. 

The list of conditions that the VA assumes was caused by Agent Orange exposure is extensive. Given that you served during the proper time, any of these presumptions would be grounds for g a claim through the VA. 

Conditions That Are Not Related to Agent Orange

Bear in mind, however, that conditions like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) are not considered related to Agent Orange, although it is a presumptive condition for those Veterans with 90 days or more of continuous active service. Conditions like rhinitis and sinusitis are also not considered to be connected to Agent Orange. However, they may be considered presumptive conditions depending on your exposure to particulate matter in certain areas.  

When you decide to make a claim through the VA, first consult an experienced attorney before beginning the process. Not only will it make the burden lighter for you, but it will also give the claim a greater chance of being approved by the VA, getting you the benefits that you deserve.

What Does It Take for a Claim To Be Approved by the VA?

Usually, to gain compensation through the VA, your claim comprises three elements. For one, it must show that your disease or disability is current. If you suffered from a condition in the past but signs show that you have recovered, the VA will not approve your claim. 

You also must show that the disease or disability was caused by an event or injury during active duty. A service connection is vital for the VA to approve your claim, so gaining any evidence that you can to show this is important. 

Finally, there needs to be a medical nexus between the in-service injury or event and your current disability. You can show this by undergoing a medical examination with a VA-approved medical professional.

If you have all three things, your claim will likely be approved, even though it may take some time.

What About Claims Regarding Agent Orange?

Agent Orange is unique in that many of the diseases and disabilities caused by exposure to Agent Orange are presumptive. This means the VA already assumes that if you suffer from any of the conditions on their list and show that you served while Agent Orange was used, then Agent Orange caused the condition. 

This allows for an easier in-service connection, which will lead to fewer hassles when trying to gain benefits from the VA.

When and Where Did You Have To Serve To Show a Connection?

For a presumptive service connection of one of the above conditions, you must have done meet one of the following criteria: 

  • Served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.
  • Served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between September 1, 1967, and August 31, 1971. 
  • Served on a US vessel that traveled on the inland waterways of Vietnam
  • Served on a vessel that was no more than 12 nautical miles from the demarcation point of the waters near Cambodia and Vietnam.
  • Personnel involved with regular, repeated contact with contaminated c-123 aircraft that had been used in Vietnam

Sometimes, the VA Makes Mistakes

The VA does not always get everything right. For one, they are prone to denying claims that regard diseases or disabilities that are not presumed connected to Agent Orange. Even if you have medical evidence making a connection, the VA may not give you the VA disability benefits that you deserve. 

Sometimes, they also give low disability ratings that do not properly reflect the severity of the Veteran’s disease or disability. Ratings determine the benefits that a Veteran receives, so if the rating is not high enough, the Veteran may not get enough. Sometimes, Veterans receive nothing at all. 

Finally, the VA occasionally determines an incorrect effective date, which affects the backpay a Veteran can receive for their condition. If you experience one of these circumstances, reach out to a legal team like the one here at Berry Law to help. 

It can be difficult to obtain the benefits you deserve, given these dilemmas. However, if the VA approves your claim, you will receive disability compensation. The amount you will get from the VA depends on what disease or disability you have and its severity. Once they give your disease a specific rating, you will know how much money you will receive.

Conclusion

The effects of Agent Orange are widespread. It affected the lives of those who served in the Vietnam War, as well as generations of children. The best thing to do is to inform yourself of all of the presumed diseases and disabilities connected with Agent Orange. From there, you will be able to discern whether or not you will be able to make a claim through the VA based on Agent Orange.

The next step is to contact one of our attorneys to help guide you in the process. It can be difficult to compile everything the VA requires alone. Allow one of our experienced attorneys to take some of the burden off of your shoulders.

If you have any more questions regarding VA benefits and compensation or want to talk to one of our experienced attorneys about the best course of action, visit our website.

Sources:

Agent Orange | HISTORY

Veterans’ Diseases Associated with Agent Orange | Veterans Affairs

Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease) – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Veterans and Agent Orange | The National Academies of Science Report