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The story of Agent Orange and its impact on Vietnam-era vets has played out on a public stage, with much more press coverage of and commentary on the issue than occurred with asbestos.
For an interminable period of time veterans complained about various illnesses and the military command structure was resolute in denying any connection between the herbicides and veteran complaints. It’s been a very slow turn to the situation today, when the VA provides volumes of information on Agent Orange-related illnesses and health issues. The lawsuits started in 1979.
In 1983 as the result of a class action lawsuit, several chemical companies involved with the manufacture of Agent Orange set up a $180 million trust fund to pay damage claims filed by veterans who could claim “total disability” as the result of exposure to the herbicides.
However the guidelines for claim recognition, the requirements for proof of illness and the window of opportunity for filing those claims led to fewer than 50,000 paid claims.
The lawsuits have continued with no real civil restitution for the additional hundreds of thousands of veterans who may have been exposed, but the VA has slowly come to terms with the health damage that Agent Orange did to an entire generation of combat veterans.
In 2003 the acknowledged link between Agent Orange and chronic lymphocytic leukemia; other diseases have followed.
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Agent Orange exposure
Q. How do I know if I have a claim for Agent Orange?
A. Many Vietnam War veterans are concerned that they have been exposed to Agent Orange, the chemical herbicide used to destroy jungle foliage in order to expose enemy troops.
Public Law 107-103 provides a presumption of exposure to herbicides for all veterans who served in Vietnam during the Vietnam era.
You do not have to prove you were sprayed or in an area that was sprayed if you served in Vietnam from Jan. 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975.
However, before you begin to file a claim, you must have proof of service in Vietnam during the war time and medical documentation of the condition(s) officially recognized by VA.
The following is a list of diseases that VA recognizes as related to Agent Orange exposure:
Peripheral neuropathy (acute and subacute)
Chronic B-cell leukemia
Ischemic heart disease
Porphyria cutanea tarda
Respiratory cancers (e.g., lung, larynx, trachea and bronchus)
Soft tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma or mesothelioma)
Type 2 diabetes
Learn more about the diseases: www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/diseases.asp
Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange may be eligible for an Agent Orange registry health exam, health care benefits and disability compensation.
Contact your local American Legion accredited service officer to discuss possible benefits,
and file a claim: www.legion.org/serviceofficer
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Subject: Deck Logs LST-786 TEXTUAL ARCHIVES
Ships or boats that were part of the Mobile Riverine Force, Inshore Fire Support (ISF) Division 93 or had one of the following designations operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam.
Veterans whose military records confirm they were aboard these ships qualify for presumption of herbicide exposure.
During your Vietnam tour, did your ship or boat have one of the following designations?
- AGP (Assault Group Patrol/Patrol Craft Tender)
- LCM (Landing Craft, Mechanized)
- LCU (Landing Craft, Utility)
- LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel)
- LST (Landing Ship, Tank)
- PBR (Patrol Boat, River)
- PCF (Patrol Craft, Fast or Swift Boat)
- PG (Patrol Gunboat)
- STABS (Strike Assault Boats)
- WAK (Cargo Vessel)
- WHEC (High Endurance Cutter)
- WLB (Buoy Tender)
- WPB (Patrol Boat)
- YFU (Harbor Utility Craft)
When you go to the Ship Listing that the VA has on-line,
And on that list are LST's. So every sailor that was on any LST that served in Vietnam is given the presumption of exposure. If the Regional Office is denying your claim for exposure, and you served on any LST, then they are making a mistake - a Clear and Unmistakable Error (CUE). If you have any service officer at the VA or any Service Organization who does not agree with this, You can have them call me at 303-762-9540... or they can contact the Veterans Benefits Administration Service Agent Agent Orange Mailbox [VAVBAWAS/CO/211/AGENTORANGE] for a direct confirmation of this.
CONTACT VA Agent Orange and Ships
800-749-8387 (Press 3)
A Veteran must file an Agent-Orange related disability claim before VA will conduct research on a specific ship not on VA's ships list.
This requirement also applies to survivors and children with birth defects. VA does not have the capacity to research ships when no compensation claim is filed.
Find out more about benefits and how to apply.
Not filing a claim
If you think your ship should be on the list and you are not filing a claim, you may conduct your own research and submit documentary evidence to VA.
Documentary evidence includes deck logs, ship histories, and cruise book entries. You may obtain ship deck logs from the National Archives at College Park, Maryland.
This evidence must show the ship entering the inland waterways of Vietnam, docking in Vietnam, or otherwise sending crew members ashore. A ship that anchored in an open water harbor, such as Da Nang Harbor, is not sufficient evidence for the presumption of Agent Orange exposure.
You must scan your documentary evidence and email it to the Veterans Benefits Administration's Compensation Service at 211_AOSHIPS.VBACO@va.gov. Emails sent to this email address are not secure. Please do not include personal data.
To see the lingering effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam, click below:
Thank You Dow Chemical !!!