Veterans’ diseases associated with Agent Orange

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By Bob Kibler

    Veterans who served in Vietnam between August 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975, (or were in country between February 28, 1961, and August 5, 1964) or served in a unit in or near the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) anytime between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971, and who have a disease VA recognizes as associated with Agent Orange exposure are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides.
    These Veterans do not have to show they were exposed to Agent Orange to be eligible for disability compensation for these diseases.
     Veterans and their survivors may be eligible for disability compensation or survivors’ benefits for the following  diseases:
    AL Amyloidosis - A rare disease caused when an abnormal protein, amyloid, enters tissues or organs.
    Chronic B-cell Leukemias - A type of cancer which affects white blood cells.
    Chloracne (or similar acneform disease) - A skin condition that occurs soon after exposure to chemicals and looks like common forms of acne seen in teenagers. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
    Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 - A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body’s inability to respond properly to the hormone insulin.
    Hodgkin’s Disease - A malignant lymphoma (cancer) characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia.
    Ischemic Heart Disease - A disease characterized by a reduced supply of blood to the heart,  that leads to chest pain.
    Multiple Myeloma - A cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in bone marrow
    Non-Hodgkin’s Lym-phoma - A group of cancers that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue.
    Parkinson’s Disease - A progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle movement.
    Peripheral Neuropathy, Acute and Subacute - A nervous system condition that causes numbness, tingling, and motor weakness.  Currently, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of herbicide exposure and resolve within two years. VA proposed on Aug. 10, 2012, to replace “acute and subacute” with “early-onset” and eliminate the requirement that symptoms resolve within two years.
    Porphyria Cutanea Tarda - A disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
    Prostate Cancer - Cancer of the prostate; one of the most common cancers among men
    Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer) - Cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus - Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma).
    A group of different types of cancers in body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues
    Children with Birth Defects -  VA presumes certain birth defects in children of Vietnam and Korea Veterans associated with Veterans’ qualifying military service.
    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 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.