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Veterans Law

Operation Ranch Hand and Why It Is Still a Controversial Subject

April 12, 2017
Updated: January 19, 2022

Operation Ranch Hand was a defoliation program executed by the United States military between 1962 and 1971. The operation involved spraying millions of gallons of herbicides, most notably Agent Orange, over areas of forest in Vietnam.   The herbicides used were toxic, and later found to be associated with many health conditions and birth defects.

Agent Orange Exposure: The Lasting Effects of Operation Ranch Hand

While Operation Ranch Hand ended in 1971, its impact is still being felt decades later. The VA now recognizes a long list of diseases that are associated with Agent Orange exposure. Any veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and has one of these conditions will receive an automatic presumption of service connection:

Veterans with any of these conditions who believe theywere exposed to Agent Orange should apply for VA disability benefits. Some veterans will have to prove that they were actually exposed to Agent Orange, while others are presumed to have been exposed, depending on where and when they served.

Agent Orange Exposure Is Presumed For Some Veterans

For certain veterans, the VA will presume that they were exposed to Agent Orange for VA benefit purposes. This includes all veterans who served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975. It also includes veterans who served in the Korean demilitarized zone between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971.

There are several other categories of veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange, including veterans who served at Thailand military bases, Blue Water veterans who served onboard ships off the coast of Vietnam, and veterans who served onboard contaminated C-123 aircraft after the war.

These veterans are not afforded the presumption of Agent Orange exposure, so they will have to provide evidence of actual exposure to the herbicide.

If your claim has been denied, get help from an experienced veterans lawyer. Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick has over 25 years of experience helping veterans appeal their VA claims. Contact us for a free consultation.