WASHINGTON — Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, urged a top Department of Veterans Affairs health official Wednesday to fast-track benefits for Vietnam War veterans suffering from multiple diseases thought to be caused by the chemical herbicide Agent Orange.
After years of indecision, the agency is still wavering on whether to add bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, hypertension and Parkinson’s-like symptoms to the list of conditions presumed to be caused by Agent Orange. Being on the presumptive list lowers the burden of proof for veterans who suffer from the diseases to receive VA benefits.
Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, said in March that he would make a recommendation about the diseases to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie within 90 days. As of Wednesday, Wilkie had not yet decided whether to act on them.
“We have not forgotten,” Brown said. “We find the department’s response deficient. The science is there, and veterans deserve their benefits. You need to move on that.”