Presumptive List Expanded
BY LEONARD J. SELFON, VETERANS
the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the VA entered into an agreement
with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review the
scientific associations between exposure to herbicides during the
Vietnam War and diseases suspected to result from such exposure.
NAS submits reports on its activities every two years.
The law also
provides that when, based on sound medical and scientific
evidence, the VA determines that a positive association exists
(i.e., the credible evidence for the association is equal to or
outweighs the credible evidence against the association), the VA
will publish regulations establishing presumptive service
connection for that disease, (i.e., the veteran will not have to
provide medical evidence of a relationship between exposure and
the subsequent onset of the disease in question). The Secretary's
determination must be based on a consideration of the NAS reports
and all other available sound medical and scientific information
1993 and April 2001, the VA issued regulations that established
presumptive service connection for several diseases for Vietnam
veterans. These include: chloracne, Type II diabetes mellitus,
Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, acute
and subacute peripheral neuropathy, porphyria cutanea tarda,
prostate cancer, respiratory cancers (cancer of the lung,
bronchus, larynx, or trachea), and certain soft-tissue sarcomas.
If a veteran who was exposed to an herbicidal agent in service
subsequently develops one of the presumptive diseases, the VA will
presume that the disease was caused by the exposure to that
herbicide for purposes of granting service-connected benefits.
In each of its
four previous biennial reports, the NAS determined that there was
"inadequate/insufficient" evidence to determine an association
between exposure to an herbicide agent and the development of
leukemia. Following the 2001 NAS report, the VA asked NAS to
review the possible association between exposure to Agent Orange
and a particular form of leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia
(CLL). In its 2002 update, NAS concluded that there is sufficient
evidence of such an association. After considering all of the
evidence, VA Secretary Principi determined that there is a
positive credible association between exposure to herbicides used
in Vietnam and the subsequent Occurrence of CLL and that a
presumption of service connection for CLL is warranted.
on March 26 the VA published a proposed regulation to add CCL to
the list of presumptively service-connected diseases incurred as
the result of exposure to herbicides used in the Vietnam War.
Interested organizations and individuals have until late May to
provide their comments on the proposed regulation. The VA will
then consider all of the comments received and issue a final
AGENT ORANGE OUTSIDE OF VIETNAM
The VA has
announced that the Defense of Department (DoD) has released a list
of locations outside of Vietnam where Agent Orange was used or
tested over a number of years. The listings are mostly Army
records, although there are a limited number of Navy and Air Force
records. These listings relate only to chemical efficacy testing
and/or operational testing. The records, however, do not refer to
the use of Agent Orange or other chemicals in routine base
maintenance activities, such as spraying along railroad tracks,
weed control on rifle ranges, etc. The VA has been advised that
information on such use does not exist.
The VA does
have significant information regarding Agent Orange use in Korea
along the demilitarized zone (DMZ). DoD has confirmed that Agent
Orange was used from April 1968 through July 1969 along the DMZ.
The military defoliated the fields of fire between the front-line
defensive positions and the south-barrier fence. The size of the
treated area was a strip of land 151 miles long and up to 350
yards wide from the fence to north of the "civilian control line."
There are no records that reflect spraying within the DMZ itself.
and other herbicides were applied through hand spraying and by
hand distribution of pelletized herbicides. Although restrictions
limited the potential for spray drift, run-off, and crop damage,
records indicate that effects of spraying were sometimes observed
as far as 200 meters down wind.
Units in the
area during the period of use of herbicide include: the four
combat brigades of the 2nd Infantry Division (1-38 Infantry, 2-38
Infantry, 1-23 Infantry, 2-23 Infantry, 3-23 Infantry, 3-32
Infantry, 109th Infantry, 209th Infantry, 1-72 Armor, 2-72 Armor,
4-7th Cavalry); and 3rd Brigade of the 7th. Infantry Division
(1-17th Infantry, 2-17th Infantry, 1-73 Armor, 2-10th Cavalry).
Field Artillery, Signal, and Engineer troops were supplied as
support personnel as required. The estimated total number of
exposed personnel is 12,056.
of claims for service connection, if a veteran is determined to
have been exposed to Agent Orange in Korea or in other recognized
areas (e.g., Panama), then the presumption of service connection
for the listed diseases applies.