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