IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Statement

MAY 10, 2001

No. 01-07 
301 585-4000
Contact: Jim Greene


VVA PRAISES RULING ON TYPE 2 DIABETES


Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) National President George C. Duggins has praised action taken by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that will enable Vietnam veterans with a specific type of diabetes to receive service-connected disability compensation on a presumptive basis. 

The VA explained its action in a final rule published in the Federal Register May 8 that provides for presumptive service-connection for adult-onset diabetes mellitus Type 2. This means that veterans who served in Vietnam between January 1962 and May 1975 and have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, can be awarded service-connection for that disorder without the need for medical evidence of a relationship between exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides in Vietnam and the subsequent development of the disease.

Duggins called VA’s action another solid step in acknowledging that Vietnam veterans suffer from a wide variety of medical problems associated with the use of Agent Orange and other hazardous agents during that war.  He said VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi’s comments that “the hazards of the battlefield include more than bullets and shells”precisely illustrates the point VVA has articulated in previous attempts to require the VA to compensate veterans for diseases incurred on the toxic battlefield.   Duggins added that the VA’s willingness to accept claims from veterans purported to have this type of diabetes before the rule becomes final is an acknowledgment of this and other widespread health problems. 

Duggins, an Army veteran with two tours of duty in Vietnam, also urged the VA to take the initiative and seek the authority to go beyond the current piecemeal approach to compensating for herbicide-related illness.  He also said VA should allow for service connection for all illnesses that are part of the “In-country Effect” (i.e., considering the overall effect of the wartime environment in Vietnam upon the veterans overall medical and psychiatric state of health).

The amount of compensation paid to affected veterans will depend on the level of disability caused by their diabetes.  The VA estimates approximately 9 percent of the 2.3 million Vietnam Veterans may have the disease, which is characterized by high blood sugar levels caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin.

Although the final regulation was published yesterday, it will not take effect until July 9, 2001.  The 60-day delay is designed to allow Congress to review the regulation because it has been determined that it will have a substantial impact on the economy. The VA estimates that it will pay out more than $3.3 billion in related benefits over the next five years

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is 
"Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."   

 

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