VA Expands Benefits Status for Vietnam Vets

October 13, 2009 - 5:09 PM
The Veterans Affairs Department said Tuesday it plans to make it easier for Vietnam veterans exposed to the agent orange herbicide who suffer from certain medical conditions to qualify for VA benefits.
Washington (AP) - The Veterans Affairs Department said Tuesday it plans to make it easier for Vietnam veterans exposed to the agent orange herbicide who suffer from certain medical conditions to qualify for VA benefits.
 
The conditions are B cell leukemias, Parkinson's disease, and ischemic heart disease. The veterans with those conditions under the VA's proposal would have presumptive status, which would make it easier to obtain benefits.
 
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki made the decision based on findings in a study by the Institute of Medicine, the VA said.
 
It would bring to 15 the number of medical conditions that have presumptive status in connection to agent orange exposure.
 
The VA estimates that about 200,000 Vietnam veterans might seek benefits under the proposed change in policy.
 
Agent orange was used to defoliate trees to make it easier to see enemy action. The VA estimates that between January 1965 and April 1970, more than 2 million military personnel were potentially exposed to it.