If, during your military service, you think you were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides, toxic chemicals used to clear trees and plants during the Vietnam War, you can request a VA Agent Orange Registry health exam.
The Agent Orange Registry health exam is not the same as a Compensation and Pensions Exam (C&P Exam) for disability benefits. To get VA compensation for a medical condition related to Agent Orange exposure (or exposure to other herbicides), you must apply for disability benefits.
But there are good reasons why you may want to get an Agent Orange Registry health exam. Even if you don’t have a known illness, the exam could alert you to illnesses that may be related to contact with herbicides. Additionally, by signing up for the registry, you’re contributing to a collection of data and information that could help scientists better understand and treat those affected by illnesses related to Agent Orange exposure.
Who’s eligible for an Agent Orange Registry health exam?
These Veterans are eligible for the Agent Orange Registry health exam:
- Veterans who served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975, regardless of length of time.
- Veterans who served aboard smaller river patrol and swift boats that operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam (also known as “Brown Water Veterans”).
- Veterans who served on certain S. Navy and Coast Guard ships that operated in Vietnam (also known as “Blue Water Veterans”).
RELATED READ: Learn about your rights (and your family’s rights) if you served “boots on the ground” in Vietnam by reading our post on the important class action lawsuit Nehmer v. v. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Veterans who served in a unit in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) anytime between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971.
- S. Air Force Veterans who served on Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) bases near U-Tapao, Ubon, Nakhon Phanom, Udorn, Takhli, Korat, and Don Muang, near the air base perimeter anytime between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975.
- S. Army Veterans who provided perimeter security on RTAF bases in Thailand anytime between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975.
- S. Army Veterans who were stationed on some small Army installations in Thailand anytime between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975. However, the Army Veteran must have been a member of a military police (MP) unit or was assigned a military occupational specialty whose duty placed him or her at or near the base perimeter.
Other potential Agent Orange exposures
- Veterans who may have been exposed to herbicides during a military operation or as a result of testing, transporting, or spraying herbicides for military purposes.
- Learn about herbicide tests and storage outside Vietnam:
- In the U.S. (including locations in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin)
- Outside of the U.S. (including Cambodia, Canada, India, Korea, Laos, Puerto Rico, Thailand, and at sea.)
What happens during an Agent Orange Registry health exam?
At a health exam for the Agent Orange Registry a VA health care provider will ask you about your history of contact with Agent Orange and/or other herbicides, but otherwise the exam is fairly similar to a regular physical at your doctor’s office. In addition to your history of herbicide exposure, the exam includes:
- Your health history (including any major illnesses or surgeries you may have had)
- A physical exam
- Medical tests that may be needed (like blood tests, X-rays, or other imaging tests)
After the exam, a VA health care provider will go over the test results with you. You’ll also get a letter with the details of your results.
7 Things You Should Know about Agent Orange Registry health exams
- The exam is free for eligible veterans. If you meet the eligibility requirements listed above, the exam is free of charge. There is no payment or copayment involved.
- The exam is NOT a disability compensation exam. As mentioned, exams scheduled as part of the Agent Orange Registry are different from disability compensation exams, also known as Compensation & Pension, or C&P, exams. The Registry health exam is meant to alert of potential health issues related to herbicide exposure and to collect data on veterans exposed to herbicides. The exam is not required for any VA benefits and doesn’t count as an application for VA benefits.
- You do NOT need to be enrolled in VA’s health care system to participate. Any veteran who meets the eligibility requirements (which are based on the location and time period of your service) can participate in the Agent Orange Registry and receive a related health exam.
- The exam is based on your recollection of service, not on your military records. You will be asked about your recollections of herbicide exposure, but you’re not required to bring any service records with you to the exam or prove exposure in any way.
- The exam will NOT confirm (or deny) exposure to Agent Orange. Unfortunately, there’s no medical test or biological feature that can show that someone was exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides, so the health exam cannot confirm that you were (or were not) exposed. But the exam will help determine whether you have any illnesses that are potentially related to herbicide exposure.
- You can receive additional Registry exams if new problems develop. If at any time after your first Agent Orange Registry health exam you develop another medical condition potentially related to herbicide exposure, you can get a second (or third, etc.) exam.
- Your family members are NOT eligible for a Registry health exam. Unfortunately, the VA does not allow family members who may have been affected by their veterans’ exposure (in the form of birth defects, etc.) are not allowed to receive an Agent Orange Registry health exam.