WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, announced that the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report includes an amendment from Brown to expand the list of medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure. The amendment would expand the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) list of conditions to include Parkinsonism, Bladder Cancer and Hypothyroidism. Brown has vowed to continue fighting to get a fourth condition, Hypertension, added in the future. The Senate is set to consider the conference report and vote on it in the coming days.
Earlier this year, Brown took to the Senate floor to push for this amendment to be included in the NDAA.
“If you were exposed to poison while serving our country, you deserve the benefits you earned, period. No exceptions,” said Brown.
Currently, VA provides presumptions for fourteen health outcomes for which the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has found a sufficient or limited suggestive association between herbicide exposure and a particular medical condition. However, VA has yet to add the four aforementioned conditions, even though they meet that criteria, making it difficult for veterans to receive care and benefits for these illnesses.
Brown has been fighting to help veterans exposed to Agent Orange in the Senate:
In 2018, Brown introduced the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which would ensure these veterans are able to receive the healthcare benefits they need and have earned after their exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.
In 2019, at Brown’s request, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing on toxic exposure. Brown pressed government officials to act on the National Academies report regarding Agent Orange related diseases.
In October of last year, Brown joined his Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee colleagues and veterans service organizations (VSOs) to condemn the Trump Administration, following released documents that revealed the White House blocked efforts by VA to expand the list of presumptive health outcomes for Vietnam veterans suffering from service-connected exposure to Agent Orange.
A presumption of exposure means that if a veteran served in a specific area during a defined timeframe, VA will presume that they were exposed to certain harmful chemicals or environmental hazards. This designation is critical to getting veterans the health care they need.