For many Vietnam veterans, Agent Orange is like a daily nightmare that comes back to continuously haunt them. Since the collaboration between the U.S. and Britain to release the chemical during the Vietnam War, the list of diseases and health problems associated with it has been growing year after year. Veterans whose military service put them in contact with Agent Orange and their survivors may qualify for a number of medical benefits from the VA. New research and a push by veterans may see the list of Agent Orange diseases expand, yet again, to include bladder cancer.
A Decades Long Fight
When Allen Eller, an army vet, was first diagnosed with bladder cancer in 1996 he filed a claim with the VA for veterans’ disability benefits. Doctors told him the toxic herbicide was most likely the cause, but the VA denied his claim. Eller continued gathering evidence and more support from doctors, filing a total of three claims, the last one as recent as 2014. Each claim was followed by a response from the VA, arguing he had no evidence to support the connection.
But the story took a turn last month when a prominent group of scientists released a new study on the effects of Agent Orange, perhaps providing the necessary links between Eller’s bladder cancer and the toxin. The study is monumental not just for Eller, but also for the 5,484 other veterans who have also been diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Agent Orange to Possibly Expand
Although the VA has previously failed to cover other diseases linked to Agent Orange, it is now undergoing a process to determine whether it will this time. An expansion of the list would mean thousands of dollars of dollars for some vets and more for Eller, who the VA would have to retroactively pay.
It is not only bladder cancer that might be added to the list; the new research may also provide evidence linking Agent Orange to other medical issues. This would mean possible benefits for 15,983 veterans suffering from hypothyroidism and roughly 1,833 with Parkinson’s-like symptoms. In addition, the working group at the Veterans’ Health Administration is also looking into whether hypertension in Vietnam veterans could also be due to Agent Orange exposure.
With Vietnam veterans now in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, the process of determining which health issues are related to exposure during their service and which are simply brought old age is a delicate one.
Seeking Veterans’ Disability
Regardless of whether you served in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq, if you are a veteran, you deserve to taken care of for the sacrifices you made. If you are a disabled veteran or servicemember needing advice regarding veterans’ disability benefits or have questions about health problems that may be related to your military service, you are not alone. Call the offices of J. Robert Surface Attorney at Law to speak with our experienced veterans’ disability lawyers in Greenville. As a leading authority on veterans’ disability in Greenville, he will answer any questions you have and help you get the maximum disability benefits available to you.