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News Summaries regarding Veterans Disability Benefits

Agent Orange Linked to 9 Illnesses that Would Expand List of Conditions for Veterans Disability Compensation

The Keeping Our Promises Act is legislation that was introduced by a group of eight lawmakers in April this year for the purpose of adding nine additional diseases to the list of presumptive conditions caused by the chemical herbicide Agent Orange.

Advocates of Vietnam veterans are urging that the list of conditions (see below) be added to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) current list of 14 presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure. The urgency is two-fold in that the youngest who served in the Vietnam War are now in their 60’s and the designation of these conditions would allow servicemembers to claim their veterans disability benefits more efficiently.

The list of nine presumptive conditions are:
• AL amyloidosis
• Bladder cancer
• Hypertension
• Hypothyroidism
• Ischemic heart disease
• Parkinson-like syndromes
• Peripheral neuropathy (early-onset)
• Prostate cancer
• Stroke

Researchers with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released findings in November 2018 showing there was “suggestive” evidence that eight of the diseases could be caused by Agent Orange and that there was “sufficient” evidence linking hypertension to toxic defoliants, like Agent Orange.

Twenty months after the 2016 report by the National Academy of Medicine, the VA recommended that some of the aforementioned illnesses be added to the presumptive conditions list associated with Agent Orange exposure. The VA asked the White House to add bladder cancer, hypertension, hypothyroidism and Parkinson’s-like tremors to the list for veterans disability benefits.

The recommendation still resides with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. VA officials told the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs last year that the Office of Management and Budget was awaiting results of ongoing mortality and morbidity studies, which may provide more evidence of a presumed service-connection between the diseases and Agent Orange.

Veterans and their advocates have fought for years to prove toxic exposures in order to secure VA disability benefits, but the bill is likely to face an uphill battle in Congress.

Last year, attempts failed in Congress to approve benefits for “blue water” Navy veterans (sailors who served onboard vessels off the coast of Vietnam), who argued that they were also exposed to Agent Orange. The veterans may be close to receiving VA benefits, but their victory was won in court, not Congress.

Complicating matters further, the VA opposed the legislative effort to approve benefits for blue water Navy veterans, citing high costs and insufficient scientific evidence. The agency has not yet issued an opinion on the Keeping Our Promises Act.

The Injured Veterans legal team at Gordon & Partners is here for military veterans and their families. Please contact us immediately, if you are having difficulty with your claim or you are not receiving the disability benefits to which you are entitled. Call us at 1-888-231-9144 or fill out the form on this website.

Read the full story here: https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2019/08/16/wait-continues-on-additions-to-vas-agent-orange-connected-illnesses/