- Special Sections
- Public Notices
By Bob Kibler
Children who have spina bifida or certain other birth defects and are biological children of Veterans with qualifying service in Vietnam or Korea may be eligible for a range of VA benefits, starting with compensation, a monthly monetary allowance based on the child’s degree of disability.
About spina bifida
Spina bifida is a condition in which the spine fails to close properly during pregnancy.
Surgery to close the infant’s back and to protect the spinal cord is generally performed within 24 hours after birth to minimize the risk of infection and to preserve existing function in the spinal cord.
People born with spina bifida may need other surgeries and extensive medical care because of the potential paralysis resulting from the damage to the spinal cord. Hydrocephalus also can be controlled by a surgical procedure, which relieves the fluid buildup by redirecting it to the abdominal area. Because of medical advances, most children born with spina bifida live well into adulthood.
Signs and symptoms depend on the type and severity. A person with spina bifida may have nerve damage, paralysis and be unable to walk, and have problems with their bowels or bladder. Sometimes spina bifida can cause hydrocephalus, or fluid in the brain.
VA benefits for children with spina bifida
Children who have spina bifida (except spina bifida occulta) and meet the following requirements may be eligible for VA compensation, health care, and vocational training:
Are biological children of Veterans who served:
In Vietnam during the period from January 9, 1962 through May 7, 1975, or
In or near the Korean demilitarized zone between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971 and were exposed to herbicides. Veterans who served in a unit in or near the Korean demilitarized zone anytime between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971 are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides.
Were conceived after the date on which the Veteran first entered Vietnam or the Korean demilitarized zone during the qualifying service period
How to apply for benefits for birth defects
Complete VA Form 21-0304, Application for Benefits for Certain Children with Disabilities born of Vietnam and Certain Korea Service Veterans.
Source for this article is www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange.
For more information contact VA at (800) 827-1000 or the Service Officer for American Legion Post 16 at (434) 401-7335 for assistance. The office, located in American Legion Post 16 home at 1301 Greenview Drive, Lynchburg, is open for walk-ins 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and by appointment (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) on Thursdays.