The Department of Veterans Affairs must decide whether to add new diseases to its list of conditions presumed to be linked to Agent Orange. It also faces calls to compensate naval veterans and those who served along the Korean demilitarized zone.
With 2016 drawing to a close and a new presidential administration poised to take over, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs faces an array of decisions related to the herbicide Agent Orange, which contained the toxic chemical dioxin and was used to kill vegetation during the Vietnam War.
In the past, the VA has found enough evidence to link 14 health conditions, including various cancers, to Agent Orange exposure. In March, a federal panel of scientific experts said there is now evidence to suggest that Agent Orange exposure may be linked to bladder cancer and hypothyroidism. It also confirmed, as previous experts have said, that there is some evidence of an association with hypertension, stroke and various neurological ailments similar to Parkinson’s Disease.
As part of our Reliving Agent Orange series, ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot have been recording the voices of those impacted by the herbicide, which contained the toxic chemical dioxin. Watch the videos.
Since then, a VA-led study has found stronger evidence to link hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, to Agent Orange exposure. But high blood pressure is common as people age, so compensating veterans for the condition could be expensive.
If the VA adds those conditions to its list of diseases connected to Agent Orange, anyone who has them and who stepped foot in Vietnam—even for a day--could be eligible for disability payments from the VA.