The federal government has finally done the right thing for veterans
exposed to Agent Orange, a cancer-causing chemical herbicide used by the
military during the Vietnam War, by expanding the eligibility for
affected Air Force veterans and reservists.
Last week, the
Department of Veterans Affairs expanded eligibility of some benefits for
certain Air Force veterans and Air Force reservists who worked on C-123
aircraft during and after the war. The planes were used as part of an
operation that involved spraying the toxic herbicide to destroy foliage.
decision to expand benefits was made following a report by the National
Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine that states as many as 1,500
to 2,100 Air Force members were exposed to the herbicide. The report
stated samples taken from the aircraft showed the presence of Agent
Orange residue, and that hundreds of Air Force reservists trained and
worked on the aircraft following the war.
The Department of
Veterans Affairs considered these reservists ineligible for health care
and disability coverage under the Agent Orange Act of 1991.
applaud the VA for taking this step to provide support for our veterans
that worked on these contaminated aircraft," said Guam Delegate
Madeleine Bordallo. "I urge any of our eligible veterans on Guam to file
a claim with the VA to get the benefits they are entitled to."
2002, the federal government for the first time publicly acknowledged
that service members may have been exposed to Agent Orange while at
military bases that tested or stored the herbicide, such as Andersen Air
We urge all veterans who may have been exposed to
this cancer-causing chemical, or their survivors, to step forward and
apply for the benefits.
Our veterans have sacrificed so much for
all of us, and for the nation, and they deserve every benefit to which
they are entitled. That is doubly true to those who were exposed to
cancer-causing chemicals by their own government.
• Learn more and apply for benefits: www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/agentorange-c123.asp
• Call the VA's Special C-123 Hotline at 1-800-749-8387