Agent Orange

U.S. helicopter spraying defoliant in dense jungle during the Vietnam War.
U.S. helicopter spraying defoliant in dense jungle during the Vietnam War, 1969. (Brian K. Grigsby/Department of Defense)

The VA offers health care and disability benefits for veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides during military service. Your dependents and survivors also may be eligible for benefits.

If you were exposed to Agent Orange between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, you may be eligible to enroll in VA health care.

What is Agent Orange and How Were People Exposed to It?

"Agent Orange" refers to a blend of tactical herbicides the U.S. military sprayed in the jungles of Vietnam and around the Korean demilitarized zone to remove trees and dense tropical foliage that provided enemy cover. Herbicides were also used by the U.S. military to defoliate military facilities in the U.S. and in other countries as far back as the 1950s.

For the purposes of VA compensation benefits, veterans who served anywhere in Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides, as specified in the Agent Orange Act of 1991. They don't need to show that they were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides in order to get disability compensation for diseases related to Agent Orange exposure.

Agent Orange and other herbicides used in Vietnam were used, tested or stored elsewhere, including some military bases in the United States. If you served in one of the following locations you may be eligible for VA medical and disability benefits:

  • Vietnam from Jan. 9, 1962, through May 7, 1975;
  • Thailand at any U.S. or Royal Thai base from Jan. 9, 1962, through June 30, 1976;
  • Laos from Dec. 1, 1965, through Sept. 30, 1969;
  • Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province from April 16, 1969, through April 30, 1969; or
  • Guam or American Samoa, or in their waters, from Jan. 9, 1962, through July 31, 1980, or on Johnston Atoll or on a ship that visited Johnston Atoll from Jan. 1, 1972, through Sept. 30, 1977.

You may also be eligible if:

  • You served in or near the Korean DMZ for any length of time between Sep. 1, 1967, and Aug. 31, 1971, or

  • You served on active duty in a regular Air Force unit location where a C-123 aircraft with traces of Agent Orange was assigned, and had repeated contact with this aircraft due to your flight, ground, or medical duties, or
  • You were involved in transporting, testing, storing, or other uses of Agent Orange during your military service, or
  • You were assigned as a Reservist to certain flight, ground, or medical crew duties at one of the below locations.

Reservists may be eligible if they served in one of the following locations:

  • Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Ohio, 1969 to 1986 (906th and 907th Tactical Air Groups or 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift Squadrons)
  • Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts, 1972 to 1982 (731st Tactical Air Squadron and 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, or 901st Organizational Maintenance Squadron)
  • Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania, 1972 to 1982 (758th Airlift Squadron)

What Diseases and Conditions can Agent Orange Exposure Cause?

VA presumes the following diseases to be service-connected for veterans in affected areas:

  • AL amyloidosis

  • B-cell leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Ischemic heart disease (including but not limited to, coronary artery disease and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease)
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Parkinsonism
  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers
  • Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, or mesothelioma)

VA offers health care and disability benefits for veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. These services include an Agent Orange Registry health exam and clinical treatment at VA's War Related Illness and Injury Study Center.

Agent Orange Effects on Children of Veterans

Children who have spina bifida or certain other birth defects and are biological children of veterans with qualifying service in Vietnam or Korea may be eligible for a range of VA benefits, including:

  • Compensation - a monthly monetary allowance based on the child's degree of disability
  • Health care benefits
  • Vocational training, which provides up to 24 months of full-time training, rehabilitation and job assistance with the possibility of an extension up to 24 months if needed to achieve the employment goal. The child may not begin vocational training before their 18th birthday or the date they complete secondary schooling, whichever comes first.

Disability Compensation

Veterans who want to be considered for disability compensation for health problems related to Agent Orange exposure must file a claim. During the claims process, VA will check military records to confirm exposure to Agent Orange or qualifying military service. If necessary, VA will set up a separate exam for compensation.

Agent Orange Registry Health Exam

VA's Agent Orange Registry health exam alerts veterans to possible long-term health problems that may be related to Agent Orange exposure during their military service. The registry data helps VA understand and respond to these health problems more effectively.

The exam is free to eligible Veterans and enrollment in VA health care is not necessary. Although the findings of your exam may be used to inform your subsequent care, they may not be used when applying for compensation as a separate exam is required.

For More Information

Contact the VA by calling 800-827-1000 or visit their website.

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