Tuesday, March 2, 2010

VA delay may stall benefits for Vietnam vets


By Kelly Kennedy - Air Force Times staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 2, 2010

Three veterans groups have threatened the Veterans Affairs Department with a lawsuit if VA does not publish regulations by March 12 about three Agent Orange-related diseases that the Institute of Medicine has deemed should be presumed connected to military service.

Every two years, the IoM reviews scientific evidence to determine if diseases could have been caused by dioxin, the harmful ingredient in Agent Orange. Agent Orange is an exfoliate widely used during the Vietnam War to clear forests.

In its latest review, IoM found that ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and B-cell leukemias all could be linked to Agent Orange exposure. VA is required by the Agent Orange Act of 1991 to publish a regulation, making veterans eligible for benefits, within 210 days of such findings. In this case, that would have been Feb. 19. VA doesn’t have to pay out benefits until after the regulation is actually published.

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