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 5552 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

  • 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.

  • 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