In 2017, former Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), David Shulkin, proposed the addition of three adverse health conditions to the list of disabilities presumptively associated with Agent Orange exposure. It was his goal to allow veterans with bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like symptoms, and hypothyroidism eligible to receive disability compensation.
Agent Orange was a tactical herbicide used by the United States military from 1962 to 1975. Veterans who have come into contact with this chemical may have served in Vietnam, the Korean Demilitarized Zone, Air Force bases in Thailand, or other contaminated bases. The presumption also extends to certain military Reservists who came into contact with certain aircrafts.
Decades later, concerns about the impact of Agent Orange on a servicemember’s health have become more prominent. Fortunately, VA provides eligible veterans a free Agent Orange Registry Health Exam to help them determine whether they have any long-term illnesses related to toxic chemical exposure during active duty service.
Shulkin started this motion prior to October 3, 2017, to help veterans gain access to disability compensation to provide for their service-related illnesses. However, White House officials challenged his proposal for new classifications on Agent Orange diseases and delayed passing this legislation.
Specifically, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mike Mulvaney, opposes adding bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like symptoms, and hypothyroidism to the list of eligible diseases. While the reasons for his opposition are unclear, many former servicemembers – including Vietnam veteran Jeff O’Malley – believe that Mulvaney’s rejection stems from the possible cost and increased budget that would be required.
We will keep a close eye on the progress of this proposal and post important updates along the way. If you have questions about the important and impact of this legislation, call our firm today and speak with a legal professional.