In a report by West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Air Force reservists were quoted as saying that residue of Agent Orange caused damages to their health. Agent Orange is a defoliant chemical that the U.S. used in the Vietnam War. It was sprayed using C-123 planes, which were then used for a decade after the war for other purposes.
The residue of the chemical remained on the planes—something which the Air Force reservists didn’t mind at the time, noting only that the planes smelled bad. After retiring, they developed some health issues such as diabetes, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and prostate cancer, which the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acknowledge have been associated with Agent Orange.
With the VA’s recognition, Agent Orange exposure may now serve as basis for veterans’ disability benefit claims. One problem, though, is that it can be difficult to present cause and effect in many cases of Agent Orange exposure claims. Given this, any veteran who served in the Vietnam War or flew in C-123 planes, and has developed health issues that may be associated with exposure to Agent Orange may get benefits under the “presumptive policy”. This means the possibility of exposure is enough basis to be granted benefits.
Physical illness is not the only worry of veterans and their families. Among other issues, suicide has also been persistent among their ranks. The VA has estimated that up to 22 veterans commit suicide every day. This is mostly a result of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) or depression that soldiers develop from their experiences at their deployments.
Even those who are seemingly doing well may one day take his/her life, such as the case of Clay Hunt – a sniper who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. According to his mother, Hunt reassured them that he was okay, and that he always smiled, but still ended up committing suicide days later. The recently signed Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act is named after him.
Chemical exposure, PTSD, brain injuries – these are all considered as disabilities for veterans, which allow them or their families to claim VA benefits. Filing a claim, however, can be a long and tedious process. This is where an experienced veterans disability attorney can help.
A dedicated disability benefits lawyer, like Jan Dils, Attorney at Law, has the expertise in this kind of cases, and provide the assistance veterans and their families need in filing for claims. Despite the government’s recognition of the veterans’ rights to these claims, the process can still get long and tedious, and might even result in rejection. Proper legal guidance and assistance will give claimants much better chances of getting approved more promptly for the needed benefits.
(Source: Air Force Reservists Say Agent Orange Residue Damaged Their Health, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Feb. 19, 2015)