On or about October of 2017, Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dr. David Shulkin agreed to add three health conditions — bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s like symptoms — to the presumptive conditions list of 14 Agent Orange-related illnesses, but it was never announced.
The Office of Management and Budget, including Director Mick Mulvaney, and other White House officials objected to the proposal, according to internal documents obtained by a veteran through the Freedom of Information Act.
Back in March 2016, the National Academy of Medicine found evidence that two of these conditions, bladder cancer and hypothyroidism, are likely linked to Agent Orange exposure and that a third condition, Parkinson-like symptoms, should also be included on the list of diseases presumed to be related to contact with toxic herbicides.
More recently, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report in November of 2018 that found sufficient evidence to link high blood pressure with exposure to Agent Orange. High blood pressure, medically known as hypertension, had previously been designated as having limited or suggestive evidence that it was related to contact with Agent Orange. A National Academies committee, having reviewed new studies, upgraded the association to say there is “sufficient” evidence that ties the disease to exposure.
The U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of herbicides, including Agent Orange, in Vietnam to clear the jungle of foliage that obscured enemy movements. Expanding the list of health conditions, presumed to be caused by Agent Orange exposure, could provide veterans disability benefits to roughly 83,000 service members, who are currently afflicted with one of the three proposed presumptive conditions.
However, if the list was expanded to include hypertension, the number of veterans eligible for service-connected disability pay and health benefits could increase by more than 300,000 additional veterans.
Veterans continue to wait for a decision on the proposed presumptive conditions and lawmakers and veterans advocates alike have pressed the VA for answers. Some 20 veteran service organizations, representing millions of veterans and their families, are calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand disability benefits to veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
President Trump signed legislation in June extending disability benefits to those Vietnam veterans afflicted with any one of the 14 conditions linked to Agent Orange exposure and who served onboard Navy ships within a 12-mile mapped range of the Vietnam coast. The VA will begin processing these veterans disability benefits claims for “Blue Water” Navy veterans beginning January 1st, 2020.
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/2019/11/14/senators-ramp-up-pressure-on-proposed-agent-orange-presumptive-conditions/