Tuesday, January 25, 2011

VA Publishes Final Regulation to Aid Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange in Korea



Will Provide Easier Path to Health Care and Benefits





WASHINGTON - Veterans exposed to herbicides while serving along the
demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Korea will have an easier path to access
quality health care and benefits under a Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) final regulation that will expand the dates when illnesses caused
by herbicide exposure can be presumed to be related to Agent Orange.

"VA's primary mission is to be an advocate for Veterans," said Secretary
of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki "With this new regulation VA has
cleared a path for more Veterans who served in the demilitarized zone in
Korea to receive access to our quality health care and disability
benefits for exposure to Agent Orange."

Under the final regulation published today in the Federal Register, VA
will presume herbicide exposure for any Veteran who served between April
1, 1968, and Aug. 31, 1971, in a unit determined by VA and the
Department of Defense (DoD) to have operated in an area in or near the
Korean DMZ in which herbicides were applied.

Previously, VA recognized that Agent Orange exposure could only be
conceded to Veterans who served in certain units along the Korean DMZ
between April 1968 and July 1969.

In practical terms, eligible Veterans who have specific illnesses VA
presumes to be associated with herbicide exposure do not have to prove
an association between their illness and their military service.  This
"presumption" simplifies and speeds up the application process for
benefits and ensures that Veterans receive the benefits they deserve.

Click on these links to learn about Veterans' diseases associated with
Agent Orange exposure
<http://www.publichealth.va.gov/PUBLICHEALTH/exposures/agentorange/disea
ses.asp
>  at
http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/diseases.asp and
birth defects in children of Vietnam-era Veterans
<http://www.publichealth.va.gov/PUBLICHEALTH/exposures/agentorange/birth
_defects.asp
>  at
http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/birth_defects.asp.

VA encourages Veterans with covered service in Korea who have medical
conditions that may be related to Agent Orange to submit their
applications for access to VA health care and compensation as soon as
possible so the agency can begin processing their claims.

Individuals can go to website
http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/AO/claimherbicide.htm
<http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/AO/claimherbicide.htm>  to get a more
complete understanding of how to file a claim for presumptive conditions
related to herbicide exposure, as well as what evidence is needed by VA
to make a decision about disability compensation or survivors benefits.

Additional information about Agent Orange and VA's services for Veterans
exposed to the chemical is available at
www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange
<http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/> .

The regulation is available on the Office of the Federal Register
website at http://www.ofr.gov/.