Veterans exposed to herbicides while serving along the demilitarized zone in Korea will have an easier path to access quality health care and benefits under a Department of Veterans Affairs final regulation that will expand the dates when illnesses caused by herbicide exposure can be presumed to be related to Agent Orange.
“VA’s primary mission is to be an advocate for veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “With this new regulation, VA has cleared a path for more veterans who served in the demilitarized zone in Korea to receive access to our quality health care and disability benefits for exposure to Agent Orange.”
Under the final regulation published Jan. 25, 2011, in the Federal Register, VA will presume herbicide exposure for any veteran who served between April 1, 1968, and Aug. 31, 1971, in a unit determined by VA and the Department of Defense to have operated in an area in or near the Korean DMZ in which herbicides were applied.
Previously, VA recognized that Agent Orange exposure could be conceded only to veterans who served in certain units along the Korean DMZ between April 1968 and July 1969.
In practical terms, eligible veterans who have specific illnesses that VA presumes to be associated with herbicide exposure do not have to prove an association between their illness and their military service. This “presumption” simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits and ensures that veterans receive the benefits they deserve.
VA encourages veterans with covered service in Korea along the DMZ between April 1, 1968, and Aug. 31, 1971, who have medical conditions that may be related to Agent Orange to submit their applications for access to VA health care and compensation as soon as possible so the agency can begin processing their claims.
Additional information about Agent Orange and VA’s services for veterans exposed to the chemical is available at www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agent orange, or simply contact your local county Veterans Service Office.
Richard Schleeter is the veterans service officer for the La Plata County Veterans Service Office. He can be reached at 759-0117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.