(WASHINGTON, DC) – “Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs published proposed rules which, when they become final, will implement the decision by the VA Secretary that makes service-connected presumptive three additional health conditions – Parkinson’s disease; B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia; and ischemic heart disease. It is imperative that any Vietnam veteran, afflicted with any of these conditions, or the eligible survivor of a veteran who may have died from these illnesses, move immediately to file a claim for disability compensation,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). This is true, even if a Vietnam veteran or survivor never filed a claim or has previously filed a claim which was denied.
“This is only one more step, albeit a very important one, on the road to justice for Vietnam veterans, and their survivors, who have suffered from the unseen wounds of our war,” Rowan said. “VA Secretary Shinseki and President Obama deserve great credit and the thanks of all Vietnam veterans and our families, not only for this decision, but also for their stated determination to do better reviews of illnesses that may be connected to military service,” Rowan said. “VVA is pleased that the VA also will review the claims of more than 80,000 veterans who may be eligible for retroactive payment, as well as enrollment into the VA healthcare system. However, we urge the VA to publicize these new rules, so that veterans understand that their illnesses resulted from military service, entitling them to compensation and healthcare, or that surviving spouses, children, or dependent parents of veterans, who died from these illnesses, may be entitled to compensation or assistance.”
These diseases bring the total to 14 illness categories that entitle Vietnam veterans – and veterans who served along the demilitarized zone in Korea in 1968 and 1969 – to health care and disability compensation. VVA also contends that many Vietnam-era veterans were also exposed in their service elsewhere in Southeast Asia during the war, including in Thailand and Laos, and aboard Navy vessels off the coast of Vietnam, as well as certain military bases located in the continental U.S. and its territories.
Among the other diseases recognized by the VA as presumptive to exposure to Agent Orange are diabetes mellitus (Type 2), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate cancer, and respiratory cancers (of the lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea). Additional information about these and other presumptive diseases and long-term health care risks for veterans can be found at the Veterans Health Council web site, www.veteranshealth.org
, and in the VVA Self-help Guide to Service-connected Disability Compensation For Exposure to Agent Orange at www.vva.org/Guides/AgentOrangeGuide.pdf