The Vietnam War in the 1960s prompted the U.S. military to use a toxic chemical herbicide. “Agent Orange” was used to defoliate forests. Subsequently, the enemy’s food source was attacked. Agent Orange contained dangerously toxic dioxin.
Its intended purpose was purely tactical. However, Agent Orange as well as other chemical herbicides horribly impacted the health of people exposed to them.
Serious Health Conditions
Anyone exposed to Agent Orange is prone to developing serious health conditions. For example, various cancers are a common consequence of exposure. Veterans can, however, receive fair compensation. Also, there are instances where children of veterans exposed can receive benefits for certain health conditions as well.
Class Action Lawsuit
Consequently, Vietnam Veterans took legal action. A class-action lawsuit was filed as a result of their exposure to the chemical. Therefore, the major manufacturers of the chemical were held responsible. It was the largest settlement of its kind during that time. As a result, a settlement totaling 180 million dollars was reached. The plaintiff class consisted of approximately 10 million people and the fund was distributed to its class members.
Two Programs for Veterans
Interestingly, the fund was divided into two programs for maximum benefits. Vietnam Veterans and their families can take advantage of these programs. First, is a Payment Program. This program provides a cash payout is for the disabled Veterans. Additionally, survivors of the deceased Veterans may be eligible. Second, is a Class Assistance Program. In this case, funds are provided for social services organizations. Together these organizations and networks work to enable the benefits of the class as a whole.
Settlement Fund Payout
The payout for the Settlement Fund distributed $197 million to class members in the United States during its operation. An estimation of 52,000 Vietnam Veterans or survivors received a payout at an average of $3,800 each.
What are the Agent Orange Related Health Conditions That Qualify For Benefits?
Medical researches have linked the chemical herbicide to many serious health conditions. Periodically, new conditions are added to the list. Currently, the list contains the following:
2. Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
3. Diabetes Mellitus, Type II
4. Parkinson’s Disease
5. Respiratory Cancer
6. Prostate Cancer
7. AL amyloidosis
8. Ischemic Heart Disease
9. Multiple Myeloma
10. Soft Tissue Sarcoma
In addition to the ten listed above, as noted earlier, there may be other conditions that indicate exposure to the chemical.
How Do I know If I Have Been Exposed?
If you or a loved one have been exposed to Agent Orange, you no doubt already are aware of this. However, you might have had contact with the herbicide if you served in these forms:
1. Entered Vietnam from January 1962 to May 1975 or in or near the DMZ from September 1967 to August 1971
2. On the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard ships and other vessels in or near Vietnam between January 1962 and May 1975
3. On Thailand military bases between 1962 and 1975
4. In testing and storage areas outside Vietnam between 1944 and TBA date
5. On C-123 airplanes between 1969 and 1986
As a rule, if you have served in any of the above locations during the specified time, you have most likely been exposed.
What Are The Requirements For Eligibility?
So then, what are the requirements for eligibility? As a rule, you will need the following:
1. The Veteran served as a member of the Armed Forces in Vietnam from 1962 to 1972.
2. The applicant was either a survivor of a deceased Vietnam Veteran or totally-disabled.
3. The Veteran took a test of provable exposure to the tactical herbicide based on the circumstances of the Veteran’s service (location of services and experiences during their service).
4. Disability or death was not caused by any accidents or traumatic occurrences.
5. The disability or death happened before December 31, 1994.
For the most part, getting your records in order before applying will be to your advantage. Consequently, the application process will go smoothly.
What Are The Evidence Requirements?
Certain types of evidence are required to prove eligibility. For example, medical and military records need to be submitted. The specifics are listed below.
1. You need to submit a medical record that shows your Agent Orange related illness
2. You need to submit a military record that shows you:
a. Served in the Republic of Vietnam within January 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975, for any length of time, or
b. Were aboard a U.S. military vessel that moved into the inland waterways of Vietnam
3. Served in/near the DMZ between September 1, 1967, and August 31, 1971, for any length of time, or
4. Served aboard a vessel operating at less than or equal to 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the Vietnam and Cambodia waters, or
5. Were exposed to the toxic chemical in other locations apart from Vietnam or the DMZ
In brief, having an accurate record of your service will speed the process of applying. Above all, be persistent.
What If The Disease Was Not On The List But I Believe It Was Caused By The Herbicide?
In addition to the conditions listed above, some veterans may feel that their specific illness is Agent Orange related. If you feel this is true in your case, you will need to verify with the evidence listed below.
1. You need to acquire medical and scientific evidence and prove that the illness is caused by exposure to the herbicide.
2. You need to submit a medical record that shows your current disability that you believe is caused by Agent Orange exposure
3. Prove that there is a connection between the chemical herbicide and your disability. Additionally, you need to show that the illness began or progressed during your service in the military.
Lastly, submit a military record that shows the location and dates of your military service similar to those stated above.Especially helpful would be to request a health exam to determine further if you have an Agent Orange related illness
What Kind Of Benefits Can I Get?
So then, the question is, once it’s determined that you are eligible, what benefits are available? Below are listed three ways to receive benefits.
1. Compensation (Payout)
2. Health care
3. Agent Orange Registry Health exam
These benefits and payouts cover Veterans and qualified dependents like your children.
What About My Children?
Generally speaking, your child can qualify for payout and benefits. Spina bifida is a spinal cord birth defect and it may be linked to the herbicide. If you served in Vietnam, in or near the Korean DMZ, or Thailand, and your child has spina bifida or other birth defects, then the child can receive disability benefits. Check below to see if your children may be eligible.
1. One of the child’s biological parents served in the areas during the periods stated above.
2. The child was diagnosed with a form of spina bifida except for spina bifida occulta, and
3. The child was conceived after the parent went to the Republic of Vietnam, the DMZ, or Thailand during the qualified periods mentioned above.
These requirements should be true for child eligibility from spina bifida or other birth defects. As stated earlier, you will need to provide proof.
What Kind Of Benefits Can My Child Get?
There are three types of benefits that a child may be eligible for. They include:
1. Health care
2. Compensation (Payout)
3. Job training (Veteran Readiness and Employment)
Receiving any or all of these benefits will be advantageous to any who qualify. In particular, health care and job training will be of lasting benefit.
How Do I Get These Benefits For My Children?
In order to receive benefits you will need to file a claim on their behalf by submitting these:
1. A document showing the biological relationship between the child and their Veteran parent
2. The child’s birth certificate
3. Medical records containing the diagnosis of spina bifida or another qualified birth defect
4. Service records that prove the Veteran’s service in Vietnam, Thailand, or in/near the DMZ during the dates mentioned above.
In summary, receiving a payout or compensation for Agent Orange related illnesses will require that you have accurate records and persistence.