Agent Orange / Dioxin and Other Toxic Exposures

Information for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange

ESSENTIAL READING

VVA Self-Help Guide to Service-Connected Disability Compensation for Exposures to Agent Orange

This guide is the recommended starting point for veterans and their family members to learn about the process to file a claim for service-connected disability compensation or death benefits with the VA for illnesses/diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange and other related herbicides during military service.

DOWNLOAD THIS SELF-HELP GUIDE

 

Self-Help Guide imageThis guide provides:

  • A list of illnesses/diseases recognized by the VA as connected to Agent Orange herbicide exposure
  • A list of birth defects recognized by the VA as connected to Agent Orange
  • An explanation of presumptive service-connected disability compensation related to Agent Orange exposure
  • An explanation of Agent Orange Registry and why it is important
  • Information on how to file a claim for presumptive disability compensation

This guide will be helpful :

  • If you've never filed a claim for disability or death compensation because of exposure to Agent Orange
  • If you've filed a claim in the past, but it was denied after appeals.
  • If you're not sure if you've filed a claim or whether that claim stated Agent Orange as a factor

VA HOME PAGE FOR AGENT ORANGE EXPOSURE

The VA has an entire section of their website devoted to Agent Orange Exposure. Visit this site for the latest information about recognized diseases/conditions, Thailand bases, Blue Water Navy service, and service outside Vietnam or Korea.

The Agent Orange Registry

In 1978, the VA began a program to examine and to record the names of veterans concerned about health problems related to their exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides during their military service in SE Asia. Eligible veterans qualify for an Agent Orange Registry exam. This will document the veteran's exposure history, medical history, physical condition and lab test results. This is not the same as a disability claim, but the results can be used to support a subsequent claim. To learn more about this program, click here.

VVA encourages all veterans with Vietnam service to have an Agent Orange Registry exam. To get an exam, please contact your local VA Environmental Health Coordinator. In Portland, you can call 503-906-5100, extension 5127 to speak with the local coordinator.

Finding a Veterans Service Officer

You will probably find VA laws, regulations and procedures complicated and frustrating, so it is important to get knowledgeable help to file a claim. Many Veterans Service Organizations, including VVA, offer free assistance to help you present your claim to the VA. You should choose a representative carefully; ask questions about their claims experience before you select them. Find out if there are any limits on their service BEFORE you sign a power of attorney appointing them as your representative. Also, make copies of ALL documents used in your claim and keep them in a safe place in case any paperwork is misplaced or lost.

Information on Veterans Service Organizations can be found on the last page of the VVA Self-Help Guide to Service-Connected Disability Compensation for Exposures to Agent Orange.

VVA utilizes Service Officers in the representation of claimants seeking VA benefits. Service Officers, referred to as Service Representatives by some organizations, are recognized by the VA as being allowed to represent claimants seeking benefits before the various levels of the VA. To find a list of VVA affiliated Veterans Service Officers near you, visit the VVA website Service Officer Locator page.

The History of Herbicide Use in Vietnam and other Locations

Where AO Came From - A VVA Video

Jack McManus of Vietnam Veterans of America was part of Operation Ranch Hand during his military service in the Vietnam War. His mission was to spray the herbicide Agent Orange across Vietnam via aircraft. He now works to inform other veterans, their children, and the general public about what Agent Orange was and why the companies that manufactured it need to release more information about how it was made, where it was used and what was in it.


History Channel Video about Agent Orange

This History Channel video offers a summary of the use of herbicides in Vietnam as a military tactic. These defoliants included Agent Orange and similar chemicals. The widespread use of these defoliants some 50 years ago have left an ongoing legacy today.

Information for Surviving Family Members

DIC Claims

If a Vietnam veteran dies of a medical condition considered to have resulted from exposure to Agent Orange during his/her military service, certain surviving family members may be eligible for monthly VA compensation payments through the VA's dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) program

Who Is Eligible? (see the VVA Self-Help Guide for specific requirements))

  1. A surviving spouse married to the veteran at the time of death.
  2. An unmarried surviving child under the age of 18 when there is no eligible surviving spouse.
  3. A child age 18 years or older who became permanently disabled before reaching age 18 and is permanently unable to support themself.
  4. An unmarried child between ages 18 and 23 currently attending a VA-approved school.
  5. A surviving parent. Eligibility for parent's DIC is need-based.

ESSENTIAL READING

  1. Finding Untapped Monetary VA Benefits for Surviving Spouses

  2. The VVA Self-Help Guide to Service-Connected Disability Compensation for Exposures to Agent Orange

How to File a DIC Claim

Survivors filing a claim for dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), survivor's pension and accrued benefits must complete VA Form 21-524EZ.

Information for Children and Grandchildren of Vietnam Veterans

The children of Vietnam veterans who are born with a birth defect may be eligible for compensation, free medical care and vocational rehabilitation services. To be eligible, you must show three things:

  1. You are the natural, biological child of a Vietnam veteran.
  2. You were conceived after the parent first began service in Vietnam
  3. You were born with a birth defect recognized by the VA. At this time, Spina Bifida is the only recognized condition recognized for descendants of male veterans who served in Vietnam. There are additional diseases recognized for descendants of female veterans who served in Vietnam.

Filing a Claim

If a child or grandchild is believed to have a health issue that is linked to a veteran's exposure, it is recommended that a claim be filed for them with the assistance of an accredited Veterans Service Officer (VSO). Expect these claims to be denied; the important thing is to get these descendants registered in the VA system. These claims are filed on VBA Form 21-0304 and are sent to the VA Regional Office in Denver, Colorado.

Register with the BDRC

The child or grandchild should also be registered with Birth Defect Research for Children (BDRC) at www. birthdefects.org. The BDRC is an independent, nonprofit organization that has been tracking the health of the children and grandchildren of veterans.

ESSENTIAL READING

  1. Download and read this: VVA Self-Help Guide to Service-Connected Disability Compensation for Exposures to Agent Orange

  2. Download and read through this VVA publication: Has Your Child or Grandchild's Health Been Affected by Your Military Service?

  3. Learn How to File a Claim: How to File a Claim for the Child of a Veteran

 

The Toxic Exposure Research Act

This legislation was signed into law on December 16, 2016 after many years of efforts. Now that this bill was signed into law, the research can get started. This is a necessary first step for research on the health of our children and grandchildren of veterans who have been impacted by exposures during our military service.

Useful Links for More Information

Agent Orange Web Pages

Filing A Service Officer to Help You File A Claim

The Faces of Agent Orange: A project of the Vietnam Veterans of America

News Links

Articles

Research Findings

  • Veterans and Agent Orange - Update 2014 (2016)
    This is the final and cumulative report of the series published by the National Academy of Sciences, which was asked to perform a comprehensive evaluation of scientific and medical information regarding the health effects of exposure to Agent Orange, other herbicides used in Vietnam, and the various components of those herbicides, including TCDD.