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If you were exposed to Agent Orange during your U.S. military service, you may be eligible for VA service-connected disability compensation for medical conditions associated with Agent Orange. This powerful herbicide, used extensively during the Vietnam War era, has left a lasting impact on countless veterans and their families. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into what Agent Orange is, how it affects veterans, and the steps you can take to pursue VA disability benefits.

What is Agent Orange?

Agent Orange is a potent herbicide that the U.S. military used to defoliate large areas of land in Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, and other locations. Despite its initial use as a tool for clearing vegetation, research later revealed its highly toxic nature, causing severe health issues for those exposed to it.

How Did Veterans Encounter Agent Orange?

During the Vietnam War era, veterans faced exposure to Agent Orange through various means due to extensive military use of this herbicide to clear foliage and forest cover. Common exposure pathways included:

  • Aerial Spraying: Agent Orange was predominantly dispersed through aerial spraying over dense forests and vegetation in Vietnam to eliminate cover for enemy troops. Many veterans in or near these areas were exposed as herbicides settled on the ground or were inhaled.
  • Ground Application: Troops on the ground also applied Agent Orange to clear vegetation near bases, camps, and supply routes, often through direct contact during handling and application.
  • Contaminated Equipment: Veterans operating or maintaining equipment and vehicles in contaminated areas may have been exposed to Agent Orange.
  • Water Contamination: Agent Orange leached into rivers, streams, and groundwater, contaminating water sources used by troops for drinking, bathing, and cooking.
  • Atmospheric Transport: Dioxin, a toxic component of Agent Orange, could adhere to dust particles and be carried by the wind, potentially impacting individuals not in direct contact with sprayed areas.

Certain groups of veterans faced higher exposure risks:

  • Military personnel stationed in specific regions, including Vietnam, the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Laos, Cambodia, Guam, American Samoa, Johnson Atoll, and all Thailand bases during certain periods, are presumed to have been exposed.
  • Personnel aboard C-123 aircraft, which were initially employed for Agent Orange spraying during the war and later repurposed for cargo and transport missions, encountered substantial exposure to dioxin contamination.
  • Naval personnel involved in operations in Vietnam’s inland waterways and those serving with the “Blue Water Navy,” operating within Vietnam’s 12-mile territorial sea under specific circumstances, are also deemed to have been exposed.

Presumptive Agent Orange exposure

The VA presumes that Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange if they served in specific locations during certain time periods. Recently, the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT Act) of 2021 expanded presumptions to include additional locations and time periods, simplifying the process for veterans to qualify for benefits.

These include:

  • January 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975: Republic of Vietnam, including Brown Water and Blue Water Navy veterans.
  • January 9, 1962, to June 30, 1976: Thailand, at any US or Thai base.
  • December 1, 1965, to September 30, 1969: Laos.
  • April 16, 1969, to April 30, 1969: Cambodia, specifically at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province.
  • January 9, 1962, to July 31, 1980: Guam or American Samoa or in the territorial waters thereof.
  • January 1, 1972, to September 30, 1977: Johnson Atoll or a ship that was called at Johnston Atoll.
  • September 1, 1967, to August 31, 1971: Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ).
  • Between 1969 and 1986: Active duty and reservist personnel who had regular contact with C-123 aircraft.

If you believe you were exposed to Agent Orange while on Active Duty, contact our experienced Attorney’s at Chad Barr Law at 888-2-VETLAW for assistance navigating the VA Disability Claims process.

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VA’s Presumed Conditions

The VA has also published a list of medical conditions that are presumed service connected for Veteran’s who were exposed to Agent Orange. The presumptive conditions can manifest in a variety of ways, below is a comprehensive list of symptoms and the corresponding health conditions that may be a result of exposure to Agent Orange.

The VA’s list of Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions includes:

  • AL Amyloidosis: An uncommon condition initiated by the infiltration of abnormal proteins known as amyloid into tissues or organs.
  • Bladder Cancer: A malignancy affecting the bladder, the organ responsible for storing urine before elimination from the body.
  • Chronic B-cell Leukemias: A form of cancer impacting white blood cells, encompassing various chronic B-cell leukemias like hairy-cell leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
  • Chloracne (or similar acne form disease): A dermatological condition resembling typical acne, occurring shortly after exposure to certain chemicals, such as herbicides, and deemed at least 10 percent disabling within a year under VA rating regulations.
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type 2: A metabolic disorder characterized by elevated blood sugar levels due to the body’s inadequate response to insulin.
  • Hypertension: Elevated blood pressure levels persisting over time.
  • Hodgkin’s Disease: A cancer of the lymphatic system marked by the progressive enlargement of lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, along with progressive anemia.
  • Hypothyroidism: A deficiency in thyroid hormone production, leading to various metabolic disturbances.
  • Ischemic Heart Disease: A condition characterized by decreased blood flow to the heart, often resulting in chest pain.
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS): A benign condition involving abnormal protein production in the blood.
  • Multiple Myeloma: A malignant cancer affecting plasma cells in the bone marrow.
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: A group of cancers impacting lymphatic tissues, including lymph nodes.
  • Parkinsonism: A broad term encompassing conditions causing abnormal movements, such as slow movements, muscle stiffness, tremors, and speech difficulties.
  • Parkinson’s Disease: A progressive neurological disorder affecting motor function.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset: A condition affecting the peripheral nervous system, leading to sensations of numbness, tingling, and motor weakness, often linked to herbicide exposure.
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda: A disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and skin blistering, typically triggered by sun exposure and considered at least 10 percent disabling within a year under VA rating regulations.
  • Prostate Cancer: A malignancy affecting the prostate gland, prevalent among men.
  • Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer): Cancers affecting the respiratory system, including the lungs, larynx, trachea, and bronchi.
  • Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma): A diverse group of cancers originating in soft tissues, such as muscles, fat, blood vessels, and connective tissues.

These are the recognized health conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange, as acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. If you have any of the above health conditions and believe it may be connected to your time in service, reach out to Chad Barr Law so we can help you get the benefits you deserve.

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Secondary Conditions for Agent Orange Exposure

Veterans may also claim benefits for secondary conditions resulting from their service-connected disabilities. Establishing a clear link between the primary and secondary conditions is essential for obtaining compensation.

Examples of secondary conditions from Agent Orange exposure:

  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Diabetes Mellitus Type II, which is a presumptive condition related to Agent Orange exposure, can lead to nerve damage, resulting in peripheral neuropathy as a secondary condition.
  • Respiratory Conditions: Exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to respiratory cancers such as lung cancer and bronchial cancer. Secondary respiratory conditions may also develop as a result of respiratory cancers caused by Agent Orange exposure.
  • Cardiovascular Diseases: Ischemic heart disease, another presumptive condition related to Agent Orange exposure, can lead to secondary cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure) or coronary artery disease.
  • Skin Disorders: Agent Orange exposure is associated with skin conditions like chloracne. Secondary skin conditions such as dermatitis or eczema may develop as a result of the skin damage caused by Agent Orange.
  • Mental Health Disorders: Veterans exposed to traumatic events during military service, including exposure to Agent Orange, may develop mental health conditions such as PTSD or depression. These mental health disorders can lead to secondary conditions such as sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, or substance abuse disorders.
  • Endocrine Disorders: Agent Orange exposure has been linked to diabetes mellitus Type II. Secondary endocrine disorders such as thyroid disorders or adrenal gland disorders may also develop as a result of the hormonal changes caused by diabetes, or other conditions related to Agent Orange exposure.
  • Neurological Disorders: Parkinson’s disease, which is a presumptive condition related to Agent Orange exposure, can lead to secondary neurological conditions such as peripheral neuropathy or cognitive impairment.

These are just a few examples of secondary conditions that may result from Agent Orange exposure. It’s essential for veterans to establish a clear link between their primary service-connected conditions related to Agent Orange exposure and any secondary conditions they may experience when filing for VA disability benefits.

How to Get Disability for Agent Orange Exposure

Establishing a connection between your exposure to Agent Orange and your medical condition is crucial in obtaining VA disability benefits. Whether through presumptive service connection or additional evidence, our team at Chad Barr Law can assist you in navigating the claims process.

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Can Agent Orange be passed down? Health Complications for Veterans’ Children

Exposure to Agent Orange doesn’t just affect veterans; it may also impact their children; 2nd generation agent orange symptoms lead to birth defects and other health complications. Research indicates that agent orange effects on veteran’s children can result in congenital disorders and health complications in their offspring. Recognizing these impacts and seeking appropriate support is essential for affected families.

Some known disorders that Agent Orange babies of veterans can have due to exposure include:

  • Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate: Birth abnormalities affecting the upper lip and the roof of the mouth.
  • Congenital Heart Disease: Structural abnormalities in the heart present at birth.
  • Hyperthyroidism: A condition characterized by insufficient production of thyroid hormones.
  • Neural Tube Defects: Developmental anomalies affecting the brain, spine, or spinal cord during early pregnancy.
  • Spina Bifida: Anomalies in the neural tube resulting in defects in the spinal cord and backbone.

Let Chad Barr Law help you get the compensation you deserve.

In conclusion, if you were exposed to Agent Orange during military service, seeking VA disability compensation and benefits is essential. Veterans exposed to Agent Orange may be eligible for an Agent Orange Registry Health Exam, offering crucial insights into potential long-term health issues associated with exposure, in addition to disability compensation.

With the assistance of experienced advocates at Chad Barr Law, you can navigate the claims process and receive the support you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your options and ensure you receive the benefits you’re entitled to.

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Monthly VA Disability Benefits Chart

The amount of VA disability compensation you receive depends on the severity of your disability, with ratings ranging from 0 to 100 percent. The rates vary, providing financial support based on your disability level and any dependents you may have.

VA disability benefit rates for 2024 are as follows:
0 percent disability rating: $0.00 per month
10 percent disability rating: $171.23 per month
20 percent disability rating: $338.49 per month
30 percent disability rating: $524.31 per month
40 percent disability rating: $755.28 per month
50 percent disability rating: $1,075.16 per month
60 percent disability rating: $1,361.88 per month
70 percent disability rating: $1,716.28 per month
80 percent disability rating: $1,995.01 per month
90 percent disability rating: $2,241.91 per month
100 percent disability rating: $3,737.85 per month