By Michael Roof
Starting in February 1961, United States military personnel began to ascend upon Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, between 1962 and 1971, the United States military sprayed nearly 20,000,000 US gallons of material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants mixed with jet fuel in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of Operation Ranch Hand. By 1971, 12 percent of the total area of South Vietnam had been sprayed with defoliating chemicals, at an average concentration of 13 times the recommended USDA application rate for domestic use. The primary goal was to defoliate forested and rural land, depriving guerrillas of cover.
The devastating effects did not end with the vegetation in Vietnam. An estimated 2.4 million American service members were exposed in one way or another. This came in many forms including being sprayed overhead by helicopters or jets to drinking water from exposed streams and waterways.
In 1991, Congress enacted the Agent Orange Act. This legislation empowered the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to declare certain health issues “presumptive” to exposure to Agent Orange/herbicides and enable Vietnam veterans, along with some veterans who served along the demilitarized zone in Korea in the last 1960s, to receive treatment and compensation for these health conditions.
Below is the list of the Agent Orange “presumptives”.
Chronic B-cell Leukemias
Chloracne (or similar acneform disease)
Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
Ischemic Heart Disease
Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset
Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer)
Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
I am still startled by the number of Vietnam veterans that do not know about what is available to them.
If you served in Vietnam and have one or more of the above “presumptives”, you may be eligible for free healthcare and/or monthly compensation. Please contact our office for help in filing a claim at 815-937-8489.