Southern California is home to a number of Navy and Coast Guard Vietnam veterans. A significant factor is the large military bases such as the Camp Pendleton Marine Base and Naval Base San Diego. Some of these veterans may have been exposed to the herbicide, Agent Orange. On September 2, 2011, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that veterans who served aboard U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels operating on the waters of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975 may be eligible to receive disability compensation for 14 medical conditions associated with presumptive exposure to Agent Orange. An updated list of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels confirmed to have operated on Vietnam’s inland waterways, docked on shore, or had crewmembers sent ashore, has been posted at http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/ to assist Vietnam Veterans in determining potential eligibility for compensation benefits. The VA presumes herbicide exposure for any veteran with duty or visitation within the country of Vietnam or on its inland waterways during the Vietnam era. Comprehensive information about the 14 recognized illnesses under VA’s “presumption” rule for Agent Orange is also located on the webpage.
In practical terms, Veterans with qualifying Vietnam service who develop a disease associated with Agent Orange exposure need not prove a medical link between their illnesses and their military service. This presumption simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits. When a claim is filed by a veteran, surviving spouse or child, the VA will determine whether the veteran qualifies for the presumption of exposure based on official records of the vessel’s operations. Vessels will be regularly added to the list based on information confirmed in these official records.
Even if a Veteran is not filing a claim, a Veteran may conduct his or her own research and submit scanned documentary evidence such as deck logs, ship histories, and cruise book entries via email to 211_AOSHIPS.VBACO@va.gov. Service on board ships anchored in an open water harbor, such as Da Nang Harbor, or on ships on other open waters around Vietnam during the war, is not considered sufficient for the presumption of Agent Orange exposure. For veterans interested in obtaining deck logs, contact the National Archives at College Park, Md., at http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/researcher-info.html. The Agent Orange Claims Processing System website located at https://www.fasttrack.va.gov/AOFastTrack/ may be used to submit claims related to the three conditions added to the list of Agent Orange presumptives last year (Parkinson’s disease, hairy cell and other chronic B-cell leukemias, and ischemic heart disease).
New claims can still be filed for Agent Orange Compensation
Aid for Korean Veterans exposed to Agent Orange
New VA program for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange announced