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Glossary

Presumption of Exposure Definition

VA will presume that a veteran was exposed to certain harmful chemicals or environmental hazards if they have qualifying service (i.e. served in a specific area during a defined timeframe).  Presumptions of exposure help replace the element of service connection that requires veterans to have an in-service event or symptom that caused their current disability.  In these instances, VA counts the in-service exposure(s) as the event.

One of the most common examples of the presumption of exposure pertains to Agent Orange.  VA presumes that veterans who served in the following locations during the specified timeframes were exposed to Agent Orange:

  • Boots-on-the-ground in Vietnam, or veterans with service aboard a ship that operated in the inland waterways or within 12 nautical miles seaward of the demarcation line of Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975
  • In or near the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) between September 1, 1967 to August 31, 1971
  • Active duty and reservist personnel who had regular contact with C-123 aircraft between 1969 and 1986

VA also recognizes that veterans whose service involved duty on or near the perimeters of certain Royal Thai Air Force Bases in Thailand between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975 may have been exposed to Agent Orange as well.  While Thailand veterans are not entitled to the same presumptions, they may still qualify for VA disability benefits if they can prove exposure on a facts-found basis.