Press Release

April 5, 2002

No. 02-04

(301) 585-4000
Mokie Porter





 Appeals Court Upholds VA’s Responsibility To Pay Retroactive

Benefits To Veterans and Their Families For Illnesses

Caused By Exposure To Agent Orange

(Washington, D.C.) – In a recent opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that interpreted the requirements of a court-approved Stipulation and Order that established the U.S. Government’s continuing responsibilities to Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. The Stipulation and Order arose out of a 1991 legal settlement between a class of Vietnam veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

In the decision that was appealed to the Ninth Circuit, the district court concluded that the Stipulation and Order requires the VA to pay retroactive benefits to all claimants whose claims for service-connected compensation were filed after May 3, 1989, based on a disease that may later be recognized by the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine and the VA as being related to exposure to Agent Orange.  Accordingly, when the VA issues a regulation to add a disease to the list of recognized exposure-related disorders, the VA must assign an effective date of an award of service connection as of the date that the claim was filed.

On appeal, the Ninth Circuit upheld the district court’s interpretation of the Stipulation and Order. Its decision means that Vietnam veterans who have been service-connected for prostate cancer and adult-onset diabetes as a result of exposure to Agent Orange, as well as their survivors, are entitled to retroactive benefits from the date they filed their claims for service connection or survivor’s benefits, respectively. 

“We were confident that the Ninth Circuit would do the right thing and uphold the district court’s important decision,” said Tom Corey, VVA National President. “VVA believes that this is the only legally and morally correct action that could be taken to attempt to provide some measure of compensation to Vietnam veterans and their families who have suffered the devastation of exposure to hazardous chemicals during military service.”  He further pledged that “VVA will continue to monitor the VA’s compliance with the Court’s order and will maintain our efforts to ensure that all herbicide exposure-related diseases are duly recognized and compensated.”


Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated 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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