Higgins Announces Expanded Benefits for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced veterans who have parkinsonism, bladder cancer, and hypothyroidism as a result of Agent Orange exposure may now apply for disability compensation provided by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) under the recently approved National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.
Higgins said, “Exposure to Agent Orange in the line of duty has changed and taken the lives of many veterans who should not be made to jump through hoops to get the care and compensation they deserve. This measure helps the system catch up with the science, easing the burden placed on veterans and their families.”
Agent Orange, used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, has been recognized by the VA to be a cause of certain cancers and other health problems. The VA maintains a list of conditions presumed to be linked to Agent Orange exposure. Veterans diagnosed with a condition on the list may be eligible for disability benefits. The Defense bill expands the list of presumptive diseases to include parkinsonism, bladder cancer, and hypothyroidism.
U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam War Veteran and veterans advocate Patrick W. Welch, PhD, added, “Agent Orange which contained the deadliest toxins known to humans has been taking a tremendous health toll on those who served in Vietnam. Many veterans who survived the war have fallen to the various health issues related to the exposure of Agent Orange. For those still living, this legislation will provide some health benefits and compensation for the suffering they have endured.”
Veterans with parkinsonism, bladder cancer, or hypothyroidism that have previously applied for VA disability compensation but were denied should reapply and might be eligible for retroactive compensation. Exposed veterans who have not yet applied should consider filing a new claim. More information on benefits related to Agent Orange exposure is available on the VA website at: https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/agent-orange/
Last year the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, cosponsored by Higgins, was signed into law. The legislation makes Vietnam veterans stationed off the coast eligible for the same benefits as ground forces exposed to Agent Orange.
Veterans seeking additional information about applying for benefits provided by the VA should contact Congressman Brian Higgins’ Buffalo office at (716) 852-3501.