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Veterans exposed to Agent Orange residues to receive VA benefits

Military veterans in Missouri and elsewhere in the country who were exposed to Agent Orange for years after the Vietnam War recently received good news. They will now be eligible for Veterans Administration benefits to cover any health issues they experienced as a result of their exposure. Agent Orange was used by U.S. military as a defoliating agent during the war, applied by C-123 aircraft over jungles used by members of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army to move troops and materials into South Vietnam. The planes were later used by the Air Force between 1969 and 1986 for nonmilitary missions.

Veterans who were affected by Agent Orange because of their time aboard the C123 aircraft had implored the Department of Veterans' Affairs to grant benefits to them because of serious illnesses and physical deformities related to their exposure. The White House recently responded to these requests by directing that special benefits be paid to veterans affected by the chemical.

The VA has already introduced a special category for those veterans to seek benefits for Agent Orange exposure. Estimates are that the total cost for disability and survivor benefits could be $47.5 million over the next 10 years. In addition, the federal government will provide separate health coverage to those affected.

To qualify for these veterans' benefits, claimants will have to prove they served on board a contaminated aircraft between 1969 and 1986 and that they later suffered at least one of the 14 medical conditions the VA has determined to be specifically related to Agent Orange exposure. Unfortunately, these claims can get mired in the red tape that affects many other common veterans' claims filed with the VA. For this reason, it may be beneficial to apply for Agent Orange benefits with the help of an attorney.

Source: CBS News, "U.S. to pay millions for those exposed to Agent Orange," June 18, 2015

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Alan E. DeWoskin, P.C.
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