In an attempt to combat the guerrilla war tactics used during the Vietnam War, the US decided (as early as 1961) to begin spraying Agent Orange on millions of acres of land in Vietnam.
Storage of Agent Orange Outside of Vietnam
While it became quickly apparent that Agent Orange was toxic, and any exposure could be dangerous, spraying continued for years. The toxic herbicide was stored in other countries besides Vietnam during the war, and it was tested there too. Just as veterans in combat were being exposed to Agent Orange as it was sprayed, those working at the storage sites were also exposed to the toxic chemical.
Rules for Disability Compensation Related to Agent Orange Exposure
The VA presumes that anyone who served in country in Vietnam with boots on the ground anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 was exposed to Agent Orange. If you meet this requirement, you do not need to prove actual exposure to Agent Orange to receive compensation for an illness that is caused by Agent Orange Exposure. This same presumption exists for those who served in the Korean demilitarized zone between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971.
Those who were exposed to Agent Orange outside of Vietnam or Korea must provide evidence that they were actually exposed to the herbicide. This includes those who served at military bases in Thailand, bases where Agent Orange was stored and tested, and crew members on C-123 planes flown after the Vietnam War.
Once exposure to Agent Orange has been proven, service connection will be presumed for illnesses that are listed by the VA as being associated with Agent Orange exposure. You can also apply for benefits for other illnesses, but you will have to show a medical connection between herbicide exposure and your disability.
If you have questions about whether you can claim disability benefits due to exposure to Agent Orange, contact the veterans attorneys at Chisholm, Chisholm and Kilpatrick for a free case evaluation. If you have previously been denied, or you are applying for the first time, we can make sure you understand your rights as a veteran.