Secretary of Veterans Affairs considers 14 conditions linked to Agent Orange exposure

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U.S. Army Huey helicopter spraying Agent Orange over agricultural land during the Vietnam War. Wikimedia

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin on Wednesday announced that he is considering possible new presumptive conditions that may qualify for disability compensation for veterans related to Agent Orange exposure.

“After thoroughly reviewing the National Academy of Medicine (NAM)’s latest report regarding Veterans and Agent Orange, and associated data and recommendations from the NAM Task Force, I have made a decision to further explore new presumptive conditions for service connection that may ultimately qualify for disability compensation,”  Secretary Shulkin said.  “I appreciate NAM’s work and the commitment and expertise of VA’s NAM Task Force, and look forward to working with the Administration on the next steps in the process.”


⇒Link to the NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS online version of the full 2014 Veterans and Agent Orange Report (1,084 pages)


The Department of Veterans Affairs will now begin work with the Administration to concurrently conduct a legal and regulatory review of these potential presumptive conditions, including inflammatory diseases, hypertension, and certain types of cancer, for awarding disability compensation to eligible veterans.

Any ailments Shulkin should approve to the VA’s list of 14 “presumptive diseases” linked to herbicide exposure would make many more thousands of Vietnam War veterans eligible for VA disability compensation and health care.

The VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Veterans and their survivors may be eligible for compensation benefits:

  • AL AmyloidosisA rare disease caused when an abnormal protein, amyloid, enters and collects tissues or organs
  • Chronic B-cell LeukemiasA type of cancer which affects a specific type of white blood cell
  • Chloracne (or similar acneform disease)A skin condition that occurs soon after exposure to chemicals and looks like common forms of acne seen in teenagers. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type 2A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body’s inability to produce or respond properly to the hormone insulin
  • Hodgkin’s DiseaseA malignant lymphoma (cancer) characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia
  • Ischemic Heart DiseaseA disease characterized by a reduced supply of blood to the heart, that can lead to chest pain (angina)
  • Multiple MyelomaA cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in bone marrow
  • Non-Hodgkin’s LymphomaA group of cancers that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue
  • Parkinson’s DiseaseA progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle movement
  • Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-OnsetA nervous system condition that causes numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of herbicide exposure.
  • Porphyria Cutanea TardaA disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
  • Prostate CancerCancer of the prostate; one of the most common cancers among older men
  • Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer)Cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus
  • Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)A specific group of malignant of cancers in body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues

The conversation around Agent Orange exposure has heightened since Sen. John McCain’s diagnosis in July of glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer. During the Vietnam war, the military sprayed millions of gallons of the herbicide in Vietnam to kill enemy-covering jungle brush, and in the process, may have exposed as many as 2.6 million U.S. service members to potential repercussions — including McCain.

About Carol Robidoux 5649 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.
  • Berta Simmons

    What are the 14 disabilities being considered?
    I only have seen mention of 6 potential new presumptives?
    Can you give us a link to the actual NAM report?
    Thank you.
    I am a AO veteran’s widow and a volunteer veteran’s advocate.

    • You got it, Berta! I’ve added a link to the full 2014 report – it’s long, but searchable – and the current list .

      • Sur

        Where is liver disease in this list? Multitude of veterans come,back with cirrhosis or develop cirrhosis later. My husband had a liver transplant. Va would not even consider doing agent its ge testing. We have been THRU hell with our va

    • Big Dan

      AL AmyloidosisA rare disease caused when an abnormal protein, amyloid, enters and collects tissues or organs
      Chronic B-cell LeukemiasA type of cancer which affects a specific type of white blood cell
      Chloracne (or similar acneform disease)A skin condition that occurs soon after exposure to chemicals and looks like common forms of acne seen in teenagers. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
      Diabetes Mellitus Type 2A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body’s inability to produce or respond properly to the hormone insulin
      Hodgkin’s DiseaseA malignant lymphoma (cancer) characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia
      Ischemic Heart DiseaseA disease characterized by a reduced supply of blood to the heart, that can lead to chest pain (angina)
      Multiple MyelomaA cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in bone marrow
      Non-Hodgkin’s LymphomaA group of cancers that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue
      Parkinson’s DiseaseA progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle movement
      Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-OnsetA nervous system condition that causes numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of herbicide exposure.
      Porphyria Cutanea TardaA disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
      Prostate CancerCancer of the prostate; one of the most common cancers among older men
      Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer)Cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus
      Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)A specific group of malignant of cancers in body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues

  • Kat

    What about offspring of Vietnam Vets. This is obviously a good thing but this needs alot more work! Children of Vets have alot of health issues also which need investigated!

  • Justin Clayborn

    I would like to know when they are going to recognize the children of Vietnam Veterans, and their ailments besides spina bifida. My Dad was exposed to agent Orange in Vietnam, Panama and Korea on the DMZ. He passed away in 2013 from agent Orange connected cancer. I have multiple genetic diseases that I shouldn’t have, because no one on either side of my family has ever had them but me. The biggest tell in my opinion was once Evans army hospital on fort Carson diagnosed me, ALL of my records went missing. My Dads records already had the railroad tracks on them and we were denied access, but mine just completely disappeared.

    • Eugene

      I’m a Vietnam vet (1966-67), with a variety of issues due to AO. My daughter, born in 1968 has several issues, one being neuropathy which I have always believed she has received due to my exposure to AO. Now, in June/July 2017, her oldest son (25 years old and in perfect health), my first grandson has gotten non-hodgkins lymphoma. He is a professional cyclist and is (was) a perfect picture of health until he got this cancer. I am TOTALLY convinced that the health problems my daughter and grandson are experiencing, have been passed from me to them. WHERE’S THE HELP FOR THEM??? So sad that our government would ignore these people who are totally innocent and victims of my exposure, which the government does acknowledge!

  • Jeannie Morris

    Would like to know when are they going to add Hypertension for a Veteran, my husband has been fighting high blood pressure since 1969, after coming home from Vietnam!!

    • Andy Moks

      Hi Jeannie , I have been diagnosed with hypertension for 10 years now and all paid by the veterans affairs . . . .I came back from Nam in 71 . . . . Get stuck into them if you are having no joy . . .cheers , Andy

  • Berta Simmons

    Thanks for that link Carol.
    We have a full AO forum on the veterans site I work at with other volunteers.
    When Nehmer 2010 came out the NVLSP AO lawyer (NVLSP won the Nehmer Case) he verified my explanation of “Footnote One”, so that all affected veterans could understand it. It was the most important aspect of Nehmer 2010 and I know if I need help with any new regulations, he will provide assistance to me,if needed. This has been the most important veterans issue of my life, long before I even knew my deceased husband had AO conditions, but we were both in the original AO Settlement Fund…which had no bearing at all on the VA.
    If I am allowed to post the link to the site here (I have been there for 20 years) I will.
    But if not I have suggested to any affected veterans who might come under any new presumptives, to write to
    Secretary David Shulkin
    Veterans Administration
    810 Vermont Ave. NW
    Washington, DC 20420
    and tell him why you feel your disability should be on the presumptive list.

    His office and the President’s office responded to me a few months ago on a different veteran’s issue regarding the claim process and I am preparing a letter to him on why the VA should service connect, under Nehmer, any veteran ,dead or alive, who had ischemic brain disease ( ischemic stroke),
    that was caused by their established AO Ischemic heart disease.

    I also CCed a copy of my last letter to the Secretary to POTUS:
    President Donald J. Trump
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC. 20500
    And will do that with the one I am preparing.

    This is the last time NAM ( formerly IOM) as I understand it,will review any more AO presumptives.
    Our site also has favorable decisions from many vets for service connected disabilities due to AO exposure outside of Vietnam.
    The first Conus veteran ( James Cripps) is a member at our site as well as the first Thailand vet), who was directly responsible for the AO Thailand directives.They were willing to do all the leg work and research to succeed and collect probative medical evidence that is how I won all of my VA claims,many under direct SC and many under Section 1151/FTCA ( VA negligence).Unfortunately my husband died with 2 claims pending and he made me promise to continue them if he died.

    We have a full DIC forum as well for survivors of disabled veterans.

    Our advice, based on expertise and personal experience, on multiple veteran issues and claims , is free.
    If I cannot post the site link here , that’s OK.

    Berta Simmons

  • Big Dan

    The VA has been notoriously slow to get things resolved, especially any maladies that are associated with Vietnam. Since my cancer was in my tonsils/throat, it is not covered by the VA by virtue that it has to be in the esophagus or the prostate, make sense of that. My reply has always been, “you do realize that the airflow goes through the throat before the esophagus?”

    • Harry

      I came home November of 1970 i bought Skin Cancer home with me. From than on i been fighting Skin Cancer . Once every 3 months i go have the Skin Cancer burned or cut out. Have two stay out of the sun much as possible.

    • Steve Schneider

      I also had tonsil cancer. My doc at the time had 3 other patients that had toncil cancer. He said that the only thing we had in common with each other was a tour in Vietnam.

      Fought with the VA for a year before giving it up.

      When heart disease was added to the list, I started getting benefits for that. I’d had by-pass 8 years earlier.

      • Big Dan

        Under the previous, I hate the military, administration, there was little to nothing being done to help any of us out. This administration is a military influenced one. It is nice to once again be appreciated. Serving under 3 presidents during my 7 years, Carter greatly influenced me to get out even with shore duty coming up. I now have neuropathy in my extremities due to agent orange induced diabetes. Sucks getting old.

      • JOHN ALLEN

        I HAD A 4 WAY BY PASS IN 2003 AGENT ORANGE DESTROYED ALL FOUR ARTRIES ALL I AM LIVING ON IS THE MAIN ARTIRIES HAVE BEEN ON NITRO EVER SINCE….CAME BACK FROM NAM IN JAN OF 1966 NEVER NEW I HAD AGENT ORANGE TRILL 2010 BELIVE THAT

  • Bob Kohtz

    I don’t care what the government says or it semantics and rhetoric’s, it simply does not give a dam about we Vietnam Veterans as the old saying applies: nobody cares…tired of hearing all this talk about…we need to give this more time to consult n’ study…for Christ’s sake I left in 1969 after spending 2 1/2 years there….67-68-69….they’ve known of these issues for YEARS and the talk talk talk continues as you’d think they’d , by now, run out of talk n’ excuses but that’s lawyers n’ politicians for you as the agenda is to avoid rather than really address!

  • billyjshafer

    The V A lost all my records nearly five years ago. Just before an AO exam. It has been one excuse after another. Now they have told me in 3-4 months they will send me a date for an appointment. I have had three strokes and am just getting over the last one. Paying for my own meds. When is the VA going to do something. Besides the normal BS.

    I find it odd that a person in prison must be seen within 24 hours. While a person that served his country has to wait years. Billy J Shafer USS Saratoga CVA 60 tonkin gulf 1972