VA decision means help and disability benefits for about 200,000 veterans.
The Department of Veterans Affairs announces that it will recognize three additional health conditions – ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s Disease and hairy cell leukemia – as presumptive service-connected illnesses caused by exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. More than 200,000 veterans are expected to receive benefits and treatment from VA as a result of the decision, which is based on an Institute of Medicine report.
The American Legion, although pleased with the decision, continues to fight for acceptance of conditions suffered by veterans who served at sea, in the air and stateside who were exposed to Agent Orange, not only those who came into contact with it on the ground in the Vietnam War.
More than a year will pass before VA’s published addition of the diseases is reviewed and approved by Congress, in late 2011. VA also announces that it will review and reconsider more than 90,000 previously denied benefits claims from veterans suffering with conditions now presumed to have been caused by Agent Orange.
“We will continue to work with medical experts to explore connections between Agent Orange and respiratory disorders such as asthma, pleurisy, pneumonia and tuberculosis, as well as gastrointestinal diseases, liver toxicity, thyroid disease, homeostasis, endometriosis and others. It should be remembered that Agent Orange exposure was not limited to just ‘boots on the ground’ in-country. Veterans exposed to Agent Orange included blue-water Navy sailors, among others. They, too, deserve the care and benefits to be afforded other victims.”
- American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill, Oct. 14, 2009, in response to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s decision to increase the number of diseases believed to have been caused by Agent Orange exposure in the Vietnam War