By: Susan Paczak
There are some new developments regarding the VA and Agent Orange. In the summer the House of Representatives easily passed a bill that would have given Blue Water vets the same presumption of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides given to vets who served on land in Vietnam. The bill then went to the Senate. The bill stalled in committee in the Senate. It stalled because the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert Wilkie opposed the bill. The Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee tried to come to deal to get some legislation passed, but without the support of the Secretary he would not bring the bill up for a vote in the full Senate. As this Congressional term is almost over, a new bill will have to be introduced in the House in 2019, and the process will have to start over again. Once again, justice is denied to Blue Water vets.
In other news, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued its 2018 update on Veterans and Agent Orange. This organization is required by law to provide an update every 2 years on whether, based upon research, certain diseases are linked to Agent Orange exposure. The VA then uses this report to decide if disease should be added to the Agent Orange presumptive list. This year the report included high blood pressure (hypertension) on its list of diseases that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that Agent Orange caused this disease. In the past, all other disease that were found to have sufficient evidence to link Agent Orange to the disease were put on the list. In my opinion, the Secretary will not put high blood pressure on the list. It is clear from the VA’s position on the Blue Water vets that they do not want to add more veterans to the list of those eligible for benefits for Agent Orange exposure. However, this evidence can be used by an experienced attorney to argue that even without the presumption, the veteran should be compensated for high blood pressure caused by Agent Orange exposure.
To discuss your claim for Agent Orange diseases and other conditions, call ABES BAUMANN.