VA To Grant Benefits To More Vietnam Veterans
Based upon a recently released review of scientific studies, Secretary of
Veteran Affairs Anthony J. Principi has decided to extend benefits to Vietnam
veterans with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
"Compelling evidence has emerged within the scientific community that
exposure to herbicides such as Agent Orange is associated with CLL,"
Principi said. "I'm exercising my legal authority to ensure the full range
of VA benefits is available to Vietnam veterans with CLL."
The ruling means that veterans with CLL who served in Vietnam during the
Vietnam War don't have to prove that illness is related to their military
service to qualify for Department of Veteran Affairs disability compensation.
Additionally, for more than 20 years, VA has offered special access to medical
care to Vietnam veterans with any health problems that may have resulted from
Agent Orange exposure, and this decision will ensure higher-priority access to
care in the future.
the decision to provide compensation was based upon a recent report by the
Institute of Medicine (IOM) that found among scientific studies "sufficient
evidence of an association" between exposure to herbicides during the
Vietnam War and CLL.
The IOM review, conducted at BA's request, was the latest in a series
spanning the period since 1993 when the independent, non-governmental agency
first published a report for VA that examined thousands of relevant scientific
studies on the health effects of various substances to which American
servicemembers may have been exposed in Vietnam.
"On the modern battlefield, not all injuries are caused by shrapnel and
bullets," Principi said. "This latest IOM study and my decision to act
upon it are that latest examples of VA's continuing efforts to care for the
needs of our combat veterans."
VA requested the IOM panel of experts to focus on CLL in their report because
of veteran's concerns that CLL shares some similarities with non-Hogkin's
lymphoma, which IOM has previously connected to Agent Orange exposure.
Principi ordered the development of regulations t enable VA to begin paying
compensation benefits once a final rule takes effect. publication of that
regulation is expected in the near future.
VA will publish further details, when available, on its Web site at
In the meantime, veterans with questions about health-care, compensation and
survivor benefits may call a toll-free help line at 1-800-719-8387 for
information. VA also encourages Vietnam veterans who have not done so to request
a subscription to Agent Orange Review, VA's free newsletter that will keep them
abreast of developments on this issue and other policies and scientific findings
in the future.
Newsletter subscription information is available from the help line number above. Back issues and additional information about Agent Orange are available at another VA Web site at http://www.va.gov/agentorange/
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