It has been over 40 years since the Vietnam War officially ended, but many veterans are still feeling the effects of that war today, both physically and psychologically. One of the biggest health hazards from that war was Agent Orange, an herbicide used extensively by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War as part of the ongoing campaign against the guerrilla warfare being waged. Veterans who handled or were exposed to Agent Orange during combat have been shown to have increased rates of a variety of diseases.
Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange are at a Higher Risk of:
- Acute and chronic leukemia;
- Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma;
- Certain types of cancer, including:
- Heart disease; and
- Soft tissue sarcoma.
Agent Orange Effects Larger than Previously Thought
While it has long been know that veterans who were in direct contact with Agent Orange or saw combat in areas that had been sprayed with the herbicide are at risk, it turns out that a new group of veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange as well, despite many of them never setting a foot in Vietnam. Over 90,000 Navy veterans, many of whom never actually set foot in Vietnam, may have been exposed, despite never actually seeing or handling Agent Orange. The herbicides used primarily by the U.S. to kill vegetation within the country and to deny cover to the enemy may very well have washed into rivers and out to the seas where Navy ships were patrolling. These patrolling ships then sucked in potentially contaminated water, where it was distilled for use aboard the ships. This distilling process would only have concentrated the toxins already in the water. This water was then used onboard for everything from showers to washing laundry, and even the preparation of food.
Decades Long Fight for Benefits Rages On
The Blue Water vets, a term given to set the sailors apart from the ‘Brown Water’ counterparts, who patrolled the murky waters of South Vietnam, have been fighting with the Veterans’ Affairs (VA) for more than 10 years. Blue Water vets were initially deemed eligible to receive benefits under the Agent Orange Act of 1991, however the VA changed their interpretation a decade later. The VA is now once again considering a change in policy on the Blue Water vets, after it was ordered by an appeals court in April, however there remains no timetable for such a decision. In an attempt to speed up this process, veterans are now pursuing legislation in Congress that would force the VA to recognize benefits for a larger portion of veterans.
Speak with a Veterans’ Disability Attorney Now
If you or someone you know is a veteran that has been exposed to Agent Orange, or is suffering another injury or disability related to your service, you should speak with J. Robert Surface, an experienced veterans’ disability attorney. He can assist you with your claim and has the experience and knowledge to ensure you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled.