Do you think you may be suffering from a condition resulting from Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War? Then there’s a high chance you may be entitled to VA benefits.
Agent Orange and other herbicides were used in the Vietnam war for two primary purposes. One was to destroy the jungle to increase visibility to stop ambush attacks. The second was to eradicate the enemy’s crops to eliminate their food supply.
Veterans who served in the war are assumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange, which could have significantly affected their health and lives. If you or a loved one fought in the Vietnam war, you might be able to claim benefits or disability compensation.
In this article about Agent Orange exposure in Korea:
- What is Agent Orange, and How Were People Exposed to It?
- What Diseases and Conditions can Agent Orange Exposure Cause?
- Proving Agent Orange Korea Claims
- Presumption of Exposure for Veterans Who Served in or Were Near the Korean DMZ
- Prove The Time You Served for a Presumptive Rating
- Prove Your Unit Was In the Korean DMZ
- Reasons Why VA Denies Veterans’ Agent Orange-Related Claims
- Agent Orange Effects on Children of Veterans
- Disability Compensation
- Agent Orange Registry Health Exam
- Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act of 2017
- Do You Need Help Claiming From Exposure To Korean War Agent Orange?
What is Agent Orange, and How Were People Exposed to It?
“Agent Orange” consists of a combination of tactical herbicides the United States military sprayed across the jungles of Vietnam and surrounding the Korean demilitarized zone. It was distributed to remove foliage and trees that helped shelter enemies.
Herbicides were also used by the United States military to remove leaves from trees in military facilities in the United States and other countries going back to the 1950s.
To receive VA compensation benefits, ex-service members who served anywhere in Vietnam between the dates of January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, are assumed to have been exposed to herbicides. This was noted in the Agent Orange Act of 1991.
These veterans don’t need to prove that they were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides to receive compensation for diseases resulting from Agent Orange exposure. These are called presumptive conditions.
Agent Orange and other herbicides distributed in Vietnam were also used, stored, or tested in other locations. These locations include some military bases found in the United States.
What Diseases and Conditions can Agent Orange Exposure Cause?
The VA assumes the following diseases to be related to veterans exposed to Agent Orange:
- AL amyloidosis
- Chloracne or other acneform conditions like chloracne
- Chronic B-cell leukemias
- Diabetes mellitus (Type 2)
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Porphyria cutanea tarda
- Prostate cancer
- Respiratory cancers, including lung, bronchus, larynx, and trachea
- Soft-tissue sarcoma
- Ischemic heart disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Peripheral Neuropathy
VA provides health care benefits for ex-service members who may have been exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during their time in the military. These services include clinical treatment and an Agent Orange registry health exam.
If you have an illness or condition not listed here, but you think it occurred due to Agent Orange exposure, you may still be eligible for VA benefits. To apply, you must submit scientific evidence showing that your condition results from Agent Orange exposure.
A study published in a medical or scientific journal may work. You may also need to show medical evidence that your issue was caused by or aggravated by your time serving in the military.
Other medical conditions seem to be strongly linked to agent orange exposure. But, they haven’t been added to the presumptive list yet. If you are unsure, give us a call. It’s free and we’ll try to answer all of your questions.
Proving Agent Orange Korea Claims
There are two ways an ex-service member can prove a service-related disability or condition involving exposure to herbicides, including Agent Orange, during their time in the military. First, they can prove the likelihood that they were exposed to Agent Orange because they were around it or near it so often. Second, they can prove a direct service connection. A direct service connection is one where you can prove it was sprayed on you in the jungle or you regularly worked within the Blue Water Navy.
Presumption of Exposure for Veterans Who Served in or Were Near the Korean DMZ
The first way you can prove exposure to herbicides like Agent Orange while serving in Korea during the Vietnam war is to show the elements of a legal presumption. Before we go through these elements, though, let’s go over what a legal presumption is.
A legal presumption is a way to avert having to prove specific facts without proving them. However, know that a presumption can be denied by the VA or BVA.
An ex-service member can prove that they are eligible for the presumption of exposure to herbicides while on the Korean DMZ. But the BA and BVA can deny that claim by providing affirmative evidence that a veteran did not experience Agent Orange exposure. If you can prove you were in the right place at the right time, you are more likely to win a presumptive service connection. If you fall outside of the presumptive conditions, you have to prove that you were exposed somehow.
One of our VA disability lawyers goes over the Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions list in this video:
Prove The Time You Served for a Presumptive Rating
Now, let’s go over the elements of the legal presumption of exposure to herbicides like Agent Orange in Korea during the Vietnam war. The first component is time. An ex-serviceman has to prove military service time in Korea between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971.
Most veterans can prove this time with a copy or list of the places and dates of service on a DD-214 or somewhere else in your military service records. If an ex-service member requires help from the VA with proving that their time in the military was within these dates, they can speak to VA.
They’ll need to tell the VA what dates they served in Korea and which units they remember serving in. The VA will need to check the dates of service from the Dept. of Defense’s Joint Service Records Research Center (JSRRCC.)
Prove Your Unit Was In the Korean DMZ
The second component is a “unit.” The VA has decided that there is a selection of units with a high likelihood of exposure to herbicides like agent orange. If an ex-service member served in one of these specific units, they would meet the “unit” element.
The VA notes that service in one of the following units counts as one of the components of a presumptive service connection for Agent Orange exposure in the Korean DMZ:
- 2nd ID: Combat Brigade
- 7th Infantry Division: 3rd Brigade
- 7th Cavalry: 4th Battalion
- 7th Cavalry: 4th Squadron, Counter Agent Company
- 9th Infantry: 1st and 2nd Battalions
- 10th Cavalry: 2nd Battalion
- 12th Artillery: 1st Battalion
- 13th Engineer Combat Battalion
- 15th Artillery: 1st Battalion
- 17th Artillery: 7th Battalion
- 17th Infantry: 1st and 2nd battalions
- 23rd Infantry: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions
- 31st Infantry: 2nd Battalion
- 32nd Infantry, 1st Battalion
- 32nd Infantry: 3rd Battalion
- 37th Artillery: 6th Battalion
- 38th Infantry: 1st and 2nd Battalions
- 38th Artillery: 5th Battalion
- 72nd Armor: 1st and 2nd Battalion
- 73rd Armor: 1st Battalion United Nations Command Security Battalion – Joint Security Area (UNCSB-JSA)
However, if your unit isn’t on the list, it doesn’t mean that you can’t receive the benefit of the presumption of herbicide exposure. Many veterans have proven the unit part of presumption by revealing the unit they served in during the military with evidence that it was located in or near the DMZ.
For example, a veteran may have been based in an area away from DMZ but may have needed to travel to the DMZ for one reason or another. Perhaps they were medics traveling to the site to treat injured service members.
If you can prove that your duties placed you on or near the Korean DMZ, you are eligible for the presumption of exposure. If you are still in contact with anybody else in your unit, talk about writing buddy letters for each other. We can help them craft a sample buddy letter that will count as evidence for your application or appeal. A buddy statement is also a perfect way to reopen a claim with new and relevant evidence.
Reasons Why VA Denies Veterans’ Agent Orange-Related Claims
The VA is likely to reject service connections on a presumptive basis if you do not meet the criteria mentioned above.
If you served in the Korean DMZ but not within the correct timeframe, you won’t count as under the presumption of exposure. You also won’t fall under the presumption of exposure if you served within the specified timeframe but not in one of the listed units.
If this is the case, you’ll need to establish a service connection on a direct basis. Exposure to herbicides like Agent Orange can still work as your in-service event, but you have to show that the exposure occurred.
Navy veterans who served on ships in open water off the shores of Vietnam during the Vietnam war are now assumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. This is due to changes resulting from the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. If you have been denied a claim in the past, you can now submit a new one based on Public Law b116-23.
Agent Orange Effects on Children of Veterans
It’s not just veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in Korea during the Vietnam War who could receive VA benefits.
Sadly, exposure to Agent Orange, along with TCDD dioxins, can be linked to birth defects in exposed service member’s children. Growing fetuses are sensitive to dioxin exposure. Agent Orange exposure is also linked to spina bifida, higher miscarriage rates, and various brain and nervous system disorders.
Spina bifida is a birth defect that develops when the spine and spinal cord don’t grow correctly. It’s a form of neural tube defect. Children who suffer from spina bifida or other specific defects and are biological children of veterans who served in Vietnam or Korea may qualify for some VA benefits.
These VA benefits include:
- Compensation consisting of a monthly monetary allowance based on the child’s level of disability
- Health care benefits
- Vocational training, which offers up to 24 months of full-time training, rehabilitation and job aid. This can be extended up to 24 months if necessary to achieve your employment goal. The child may not start vocational training before their 18th birthday or the date they finish secondary schooling, whichever comes first.
Following the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, children of veterans who served in Thailand during the Vietnam war may qualify for VA benefits.
Veterans who would like to be considered for disability for health issues relating to Agent Orange exposure will have to file a claim. During the claims procedure, the VA will assess military records to check exposure to Agent Orange or qualifying military service. If required, the VA will arrange a separate exam for compensation.
Here are some tips on your C&P exam from one of our VA disability lawyers.
Agent Orange Registry Health Exam
The Agent Orange Registry Health Exam lets veterans know about any potential long-term health issues they may have that are related to Agent Orange exposure. The data from the health exams helps VA recognize and respond to these health conditions better.
The Agent Orange Registry Health Exam is free for qualifying veterans. Enrollment in VA healthcare isn’t required.
The results of your health exam may be used to notify your subsequent care. However, they cannot be used when submitting for compensation as a separate exam is necessary.
Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act of 2017
In July of 2017, the Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act of 2017 was introduced by Congressman Tom MacArthur. The act was welcomed as part of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018. It was introduced to extend the presumptive timeframe for veterans who served in or near the Korean DMZ.
Notably, the act recommends starting the presumptive timeframe on September 1, 1967, six months before the previous April date. This adjustment is estimated to aid between 1,000, and 15,000 Korean DMZ veterans who receive VA disability benefits relating to agent orange exposure!
The act mentions a January 1968 document that proves the use of herbicides in the Korean DMZ for testing that started on October 9, 1967.
If you were previously denied or if you haven’t even applied for VA disability, you’ll want to start your claim soon. Any veteran already in the process when these changes were made will have a head start on his or her claim.
Talk to Us About Your Claim: (866)232-5777
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Do You Need Help Claiming From Exposure To Korean War Agent Orange?
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No, you can still apply for DIC benefits if you are the surviving spouse of a veteran.
It will definitely help you with your case, but nothing is automatic with the VA. A buddy statement is a great piece of evidence to add to your claim, so work with our team and your friend to get that written. You’ll still have to apply and get all of your evidence in order, but it sounds like you already have a great shot. Let’s work and make sure you get your full application in correctly.