VA plans benefits expansion for three diseases related to certain toxic exposures

VA
The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced some major changes related to presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange and particulate matter exposures during military service in Southwest Asia. Photo credit USA Today

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced major changes related to presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange and particulate matter exposures during military service in Southwest Asia.

Bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism will be added to the list of those presumptively associated with exposure to herbicide agents, more commonly known as Agent Orange.

“Many of our nation’s veterans have waited a long time for these benefits,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough in a release. “VA will not make them wait any longer. This is absolutely the right thing to do for Veterans and their families.

VA will apply the provisions of court orders related which may result in an earlier date for entitlement to benefits for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Vietnam War-era veterans and their survivors who previously filed and were denied benefits for one of these three new presumptive conditions will have their cases automatically reviewed without the need to refile a claim. VA will send letters to impacted veterans and survivors.

The first round of a newly formed internal VA process to review scientific evidence to support rulemaking, resulting in the recommendation to consider the creation of new presumptions of service connection for respiratory conditions based on VA’s evaluation of a National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report and other evidence was recently concluded.

According to the release, VA’s review supports the initiation of rulemaking to address the role that particulate matter pollution plays in generating chronic respiratory conditions, which may include asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis for veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War and/or after Sept. 19, 2001, or in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War.

VA is also initiating rulemaking to consider adding respiratory conditions, which may include asthma, sinusitis, and rhinitis, to the list of chronic disabilities based on an association with military service in Southwest Asia, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan during the covered periods of conflict.

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.

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