Saturday, February 12, 2011

Expanded Agent Orange Coverage for Korean War Veterans
Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Korean War or the Vietnam War may finally have the support from the Department of Veterans Affairs that they have been seeking since the end of the war.

Under a new federal rule published in the Jan. 25 Federal Register, the burden of proof for veterans who claim exposure to the cancer-causing herbicide will no longer be on the veteran, but will be verified by the Department of Defense. More importantly, veterans who served in certain areas where Agent Orange is known to have been used will be presumed to have been exposed.

The new rule extends benefits for Agent Orange exposure specifically to veterans who served in the demilitarized zone in Korea from 1968 through the end of 1971. The Department of Veterans Affairs reserved the right to expand its coverage for Agent Orange-related illnesses even further if evidence should come to light that the herbicide was being used prior to 1968.

Agent Orange was an airborne herbicide used in Korea and Vietnam as a defoliant, to try to remove cover from the enemy. American soldiers exposed to the herbicide complained almost immediately of a variety of illnesses linked to the chemical. Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes 14 classes of illness that are linked to the disease including several forms of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and peripheral neuropathy.


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