WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – asked VA Secretary David Shulkin to expand the medical conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange.
In March 2016, the National Academy of Medicine recommended that the VA expand its list of medical conditions that are associated with presumed exposure to Agent Orange. The VA has yet to respond to its recommendations to include bladder cancer, hyperthyroidism and Parkinson-like conditions.
“The veterans suffering from these conditions are still in urgent need of critical health care and other benefits,” wrote Brown in a letter to Shulkin. “The care owed to our servicemembers should not be delayed and denied any longer. They fought for our country, were exposed to a toxic chemical while carrying out their daily duty, and in return, we are failing to provide medical care and disability compensation.”
Under the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the VA has been required to implement recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine within 60 days. While that law has expired, the VA has delayed its response several times over the course of the last 19 months.
Veterans who served in Vietnam are presumed to have been exposed to toxic chemicals like Agent Orange. The VA considers a number of medical conditions to have direct relation to a veteran’s presumed exposure to toxic chemicals and provides these veterans with health care and disability benefits.
Brown has long fought to make sure all those who served and been exposed to Agent Orange can access the same benefits:
- In June 2015, Brown successfully secured benefits for reservists who served on the Fairchild UC-213, an aircraft contaminated with Agent Orange.
- In January 2016, Brown called on the VA to make it easier for “Blue Water Navy” veterans to receive the same benefits as others who served on land.
- In March 2016, Brown called on the VA to expand the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to Agent Orange to provide more veterans who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) access to critical health care benefits.
- In January 2017, Brown pushed Dr. David Shulkin, then nominee for Secretary to quickly act on the VA’s Agent Orange working group’s recommendations regarding expanding the presumptive condition list.
The Senators’ letter can be found online HERE.