Many Vietnam-era veterans suffer from medical conditions related to Agent Orange exposure. As of 2022, a Congressional act added bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance to the list of presumptive conditions.

To qualify, you must have served in the waters offshore of Vietnam on a vessel that traveled to Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, or aboard a contaminated C-123 aircraft.

How It Works

What is the average compensation for Agent Orange? Depending on their status and the specific program they were eligible for, there were different compensation programs for individuals affected by Agent Orange exposure. The PACT Act makes it easier for veterans with disabilities resulting from exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides to qualify for financial relief. Essentially, suppose you served on a ship that was in inland waters or within 12 miles of the Vietnamese and Cambodian demarcation lines between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, and have one of the illnesses linked to Agent Orange. In that case, you can automatically receive service-connected disability benefits.

What You Need to Know

Known as agent orange, this combination of herbicides was sprayed over Vietnam and nearby areas between 1962 and 1971 to clear dense foliage, expose enemy bases, and destroy crops. Initially, the military believed that using Agent Orange would improve visibility in combat and help spot approaching snipers.

But it soon became apparent that the defoliant was causing long-lasting, serious health problems in veterans and their children. Many vets blame their illnesses on exposure to Agent Orange. Others say their kids have a variety of issues, such as missing or extra limbs and chronic headaches, that didn’t run in the family.

Research has found that the dioxin in agent orange is responsible for these and other ailments. The chemical is absorbed in the fat tissue of those who touch or ingest it and can build up over time. 

Requirements for Eligibility

The toxic herbicide agent orange cleared vegetation in Vietnam and Korea. The chemical’s primary ingredient, dioxin TCDD, can cause many severe illnesses in veterans who were exposed to it, including psychological symptoms, type 2 diabetes, and congenital disabilities.

A class action lawsuit was launched in 1979 on behalf of veterans who had been exposed to Agent Orange and had experienced one or more health issues. Five years later, a settlement was reached with the seven companies that produced the herbicide.

Today, most Vietnam veterans and some surviving spouses are presumptive to receive compensation for the conditions associated with their Agent Orange exposure. The list of illnesses presumed to be related to the agent continues to grow as more research is conducted. For example, Congress bypassed VA in 2021 to add bladder cancer, Parkinson’ s-like symptoms, and hypothyroidism to the presumptive Agent Orange list. These were based on research showing a link between the chemicals and these illnesses.

How to Get Started

When the military sprayed Agent Orange in Vietnam, it did so to clear dense jungle that could provide Viet Cong guerrillas with cover. Unfortunately, the herbicide contained a toxic compound called dioxin. Veterans exposed to Agent Orange can develop several conditions, including diabetes, various cancers, and Parkinson’s disease. The VA assumes these veterans are suffering from a service-connected condition and pays them disability benefits.

Since the Vietnam War, our understanding of how herbicides impact veterans’ health has grown. In 2021, three additional illnesses — bladder cancer, hyperthyroidism, and ischemic heart disease — were added to the list of presumptive diseases that warrant benefits.

Veterans of the Blue Water Navy now have an easier time getting this compensation according to the PACT Act, which was brought into law in August 2022. However, it is still essential for a service member to establish that their current condition is linked to their exposure to Agent Orange by providing medical evidence and submitting a disability claim with the help of a Veterans law attorney.

By Grace