The National Veterans Legal Services Program (“NVLSP”) partnered with the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization of Yale Law School (“LSO”) to evaluate whether existing evidence satisfies the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) legal standard to establish that veterans who served on Guam from 1962 to 1975 were exposed to Agent Orange and other dioxin-containing herbicide agents.
The relevant VA standard of proof is whether it is “as likely as not” that these veterans were exposed to herbicide agents. We are pleased to share this white paper with the VA and veterans of Guam seeking service-connection for illnesses associated with Agent Orange exposure.
We conclude that existing evidence establishes that it is, at the very least, “as likely as not” that veterans who served in Guam from 1962 to 1975 were exposed to Agent Orange and other dioxincontaining herbicides. Official government accounts and credible veteran testimony demonstrate significant dioxin exposure pathways among Guam veterans as a result of spraying, mishandling, and disposal in documented areas. Widespread dioxin exposure is further supported by scientific evidence of dioxin contamination from Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the Department of Defense (“DoD”) testing at these sites during the 1980s and 1990s. Accordingly, these veterans are presumptively entitled to disability compensation for any diseases that the Secretary has associated with exposure based on findings from the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Below, we explain in depth the evidence and legal basis for our conclusion. This white paper is accompanied by an appendix of selected relevant sources to document veterans’ claims of service connection for illnesses associated with dioxin exposure.
The weight of the evidence strongly shows that veterans who served on Guam from 1962 to 1975 were exposed to herbicides containing dioxin.