Between the years of 1965 and 1970, around 2.6 million U.S. service members were potentially exposed to Agent Orange, a dangerous herbicide that has been linked to a number of deadly illnesses and was used during the Vietnam War. Currently, the VA provides benefits to those veterans who are suffering from one of the listed illnesses and can prove that they served on the ground in Vietnam or on one of its rivers. Unfortunately, research continues to reveal that many illnesses that are not included on the VA’s list can also be caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Most recently, the Institute of Medicine released findings that reveal a possible link between exposure to this herbicide and bladder cancer, high blood pressure, underactive thyroid, and symptoms similar to those experienced by Parkinson’s disease patients. Currently, these illnesses have not been included on the VA’s Agent Orange list, which leaves many veterans struggling to pay medical bills for conditions that were most likely caused by exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
The VA maintains a list of diseases that are presumed to be caused by exposure to certain chemicals contained in Agent Orange, including:
- Al Amyloidosis, which is a diseases that affects the tissues and organs;
- Chronic B-cell Leukemias, which is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells;
- Chloracne, which is a skin condition that begins manifesting soon after exposure;
- Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, which is a disease that involves high blood sugar levels caused by an inability to respond to insulin;
- Hodgkin’s Disease, which is a malignant cancer that manifests as the enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen;
- Ischemic Heart Disease, which is characterized by restricted blood flow to the heart, which in turn, causes chest pain;
- Multiple Myeloma, which is a cancer of the plasma cells contained in the bone marrow;
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which is a group of cancers that affects the glands;
- Parkinson’s Disease, which is a nervous system disorder that affects movement;
- Peripheral Neuropathy, which causes numbness, tingling, and motor weakness;
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, which is a condition characterized by liver failure and the blistering of skin exposed to the sun;
- Cancer of the prostate;
- Cancers of the lung, trachea, bronchus, and larynx; and
- Soft tissue sarcomas, which is a group of different kinds of cancers that affect the connective tissues and blood and lymph vessels.
Veterans who suffer from diseases that do not fall under this list can only begin receiving disability payments if they provide proof that their illness was as likely as not connected to their service in the military. Although a doctor’s opinion is usually considered enough evidence to obtain payment, less than 50 veterans have been able to convince the VA to compensate them for bladder cancer. It is hoped that the newly published research will prompt the VA to begin compensating veterans for conditions like bladder cancer that have been newly linked to exposure to Agent Orange.
Adding new conditions to the VA’s list is not unprecedented. In fact, the VA added three diseases to the presumptive list in 2010: Parkinson’s Disease, a certain type of leukemia, and Ischemic Heart Disease. Unfortunately, in this case, the VA has scheduled, but missed a number of deadlines by which they promised action.
Contact an Agent Orange Attorney Today
If you were exposed to Agent Orange and now suffer from bladder cancer, you need the advice of an attorney who can help you prove that the disease can be linked to your exposure. Please contact our Agent Orange legal team at The Comerford Law Office, LLC by calling 312-863-8572 to learn more.