Home  »  Military & Veteran Benefits   »   VA Agent Orange Program Expanding to Include More Veterans

VA Agent Orange Program Expanding to Include More Veterans

What’s an herbicide-related disability? The Department of Veterans Affairs uses that term (among others) to describe what some veterans have suffered thanks to exposure to a military herbicide called Agent Orange.

Military members who were exposed to the toxin but did not serve overseas are now being included in an expansion of VA benefits for those exposed during the Vietnam War and other service eras.

Expansion of VA Benefits for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange

For decades, VA options were offered to those stationed overseas at select locations during the use of Agent Orange, but no equivalent was offered to those exposed while still in the United States.

Thanks to VA program changes, that’s being rectified. At press time, those changes have been published to the Federal Register and are not yet fully implemented.

They are currently in a limited-time public comment phase before the measures are adopted or rejected.

Related: Ultimate TRICARE Guide

The Agent Orange Problem

The VA official site says, “For the purposes of VA compensation benefits, Veterans who served anywhere in Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides, as specified in the Agent Orange Act of 1991.”

That “presumption” means veterans who served in “Agent Orange areas” are presumed to have been exposed to the toxins, and do not need to furnish medical evidence of such exposure to get VA compensation and treatment.

According to VA.gov, “Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during service may be eligible for a variety of VA benefits” including VA disability pay, treatment, and options for the surviving family members of those exposed to Agent Orange.

But troops who served stateside didn’t get the same options. Thanks to VA program changes and legislation including the PACT Act, VA plans include expansion of Agent Orange disability options for those in over 120 new locations including those in the United States.

Where New Agent Orange Rules May Apply

The VA plan allows the agency to assume veterans were exposed to Agent Orange or other toxic herbicides if they served at certain locations including but not limited to:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

Effective dates for each location may vary. In addition to the stateside locations, the Department of Veterans Affairs also proposes expanding overseas locations to include the Korean demilitarized zone, and areas off the shore of Vietnam.

Related: Ultimate TRICARE Guide

Additional VA Guidelines

The VA is also adding guidance about qualifying symptoms of toxic herbicide exposure. Something known as “Parkinsonism” is said to be associated with Agent Orange exposure, but there’s a concern that VA claims reviewers don’t understand the condition is related to toxic exposure for the purposes of establishing VA disability.

What’s Next?

When a proposed policy change is posted on the Federal Register, there’s a 60 day period of public comment, a review of those comments, and then a final determination about the state of the changes. At press time that 60-day comment window was ongoing.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently processing Agent Orange claims, with or without the new guidance. Learn more about being screened for Agent Orange exposure at the VA official site.

Related: Ultimate TRICARE Guide


About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.