Benefits for exposed veterans
Vietnam veterans and those who served at certain other locations (such as Thailand or the Korean Demilitarized Zone) who were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides may be eligible for 3 kinds of benefits.
Because past Agent Orange exposure is hard to prove, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) presumes that all veterans who served in certain locations at certain times might have been exposed. For example, if a veteran served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 and becomes disabled with one of the conditions designated as Agent Orange-related, the VA classifies his or her disability as service-related.
Agent Orange Registry health exam
The Agent Orange Registry is a program administered by the VA since 1978. Veterans who qualify and participate in this program receive a free medical exam, lab tests, and specialty referrals if appropriate. Veterans are not required to enroll in the VA health care system to receive the registry exam.
Disability compensation payments are available for veterans with service-related illnesses or illnesses that were incurred or aggravated by military service. The amount of the monthly payment is determined by the extent of disability.
The diseases considered related to Agent Orange exposure correspond closely to the conditions found by the IOM to have “sufficient” or “limited/suggestive” evidence of an association. The cancers on the list include:
- Hodgkin disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Prostate cancer
- Cancer of the lung, bronchus, larynx (voice box), or trachea (windpipe)
- Soft tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, hairy cell leukemia, and other chronic B-cell leukemias
Conditions other than cancer on this list include early-onset peripheral neuropathy, AL amyloidosis, chloracne, type 2 diabetes, ischemic heart disease, Parkinson disease, and porphyria cutanea tarda. Also included are spina bifida and certain other birth defects in the children of veterans.
Some veterans qualify for medical care after being exposed to Agent Orange. The VA provides medical care at VA facilities, prescription medicines, and home health and hospice care to veterans with conditions linked with herbicide exposure in Vietnam. These include the cancers and other health conditions presumed to be Agent Orange-related, as listed before.
Veterans might want to check the VA Benefits (https://vvets.eu/10-veterans-benefits-might-want-know/) or their local VA hospitals for more information on any of these Agent Orange-related benefits.
Other things you can do for your health
Be sure your doctor knows if you have a history of Agent Orange exposure. Because of the possibility of excess cancer risk, your doctor may advise you to get cancer screening tests and to see your doctor promptly if you have suspicious symptoms.
Of course, veterans are at risk for many types of cancer just like everyone else, even if they haven’t been exposed to Agent Orange. You might be able to lower your risk of cancer (and other diseases) by quitting smoking, staying at a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding exposure to other environmental carcinogens.