FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Kate Cyrul / Bergen Kenny
October 1, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today applauded the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for its decision this week to review the cases of 17,000 “Brown Water” and other Vietnam-era veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange. “Brown Water” vets are those who served in the inlets and inland waterways of Vietnam, where the use of Agent Orange was prevalent, while a “Blue Water” classification denotes service outside of affected areas. Senator Harkin, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, is a cosponsor of S. 1939, the Agent Orange Equity Act, which was designed to address cases of veterans who served in inland waterways and other areas of Vietnam who were denied benefits despite evidence of Agent Orange exposure.
“It is our moral obligation to treat our veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, which has been linked to so many debilitating diseases,” Harkin said. “They served our country and we must honor the sacrifices they made.”
With the VA’s decision, veterans who served their nation in the inland waterways of Vietnam and at Air Force bases that may have been contaminated by Agent Orange will now receive more standing to claim Agent Orange benefits. Previously, veterans potentially exposed to Agent Orange were denied “Brown Water” classification without obtaining relevant military records, such as deck logs, and were classified as “Blue Water.” Conditions linked to Agent Orange exposure include lymphoma, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, prostate cancer and respiratory cancers.
A full list of diseases for which Veterans may claim Agent Orange benefits is listed here.