Monday, June 22, 2015

Finally: More benefits for vets exposed to herbicide
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.
The 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.
"I 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."
In 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 Force Base.
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:
• Call the VA's Special C-123 Hotline at 1-800-749-8387

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