Toxic Exposure Announcement For Kane County Veterans Who Served in Vietnam, Southwest Asia, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan
Kane County veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange or other toxic environmental hazards will have an easier path to receive benefits following Friday’s announcement (May 28, 2021) from Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough.
Kane County Veterans Assistance Superintendent Jake Zimmerman released the announcement Friday, sharing important updates for veterans who were exposed to herbicides (Agent Orange) or exposed to toxic environmental hazards in Southwest Asia Theater of Operations, Afghanistan, and or Uzbekistan.
The announcement was one of two major decisions related to presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange and particulate matter exposures during military service in Southwest Asia.
VA will begin implementing provisions of the William M. Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law 116-283), adding three conditions to the list of those presumptively associated with exposure to herbicide agents, more commonly known as Agent Orange.
Those conditions are bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism.
“Many of our Nation’s Veterans have waited a long time for these benefits,” McDonough said. “VA will not make them wait any longer. This is absolutely the right thing to do for Veterans and their families.”
VA will apply the provisions of court orders related to Nehmer vs. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which may result in an earlier date for entitlement to benefits for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Vietnam War era Veterans and their survivors, who previously filed and were denied benefits for one of these three new presumptive conditions, will have their cases automatically reviewed without the need to refile a claim.
VA will send letters to impacted veterans and survivors.
Particulate Matter Exposures
The secretary recently concluded the first iteration of a newly formed internal VA process to review scientific evidence to support rulemaking, resulting in the recommendation to consider creation of new presumptions of service connection for respiratory conditions based on VA’s evaluation of a National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine report and other evidence.
VA’s review supports initiation of rulemaking to address the role that particulate matter pollution plays in generating chronic respiratory conditions, which may include asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis, for Veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War and/or after Sept. 19, 2001, or in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War.
“VA is establishing a holistic approach to determining toxic exposure presumption going forward. We are moving out smartly in initiating action to consider these and other potential new presumptions, grounded in science and in keeping with my authority as Secretary of VA,” said McDonough.
VA is initiating rulemaking to consider adding respiratory conditions, which may include asthma, sinusitis, and rhinitis, to the list of chronic disabilities, based on an association with military service in Southwest Asia, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan during the covered periods of conflict. VA will conduct broad outreach efforts to reach impacted Veterans and encourages them to participate in the rulemaking process.
More information is available at Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Exposures – Public Health (va.gov).
If you have questions send queries to VAPublicAffairs@va.gov.
For more information, contact the Kane County Veterans Assistance Commissionat 630-232-3550/3551.
About the Kane County Veterans Assistance Commission
The Veterans Assistance Commission exists to help veterans access the benefits they earned for serving our great nation.
Whether you are looking to apply for health care, dental insurance, disability compensation, home loan, GI Bill, or state benefits, our office can help! Don’t try to navigate the benefits bureaucracy alone, our help is free!
Visit the Kane County Veterans Assistance Commission website and Facebook page for more information.
SOURCE: Kane County Veterans Assistance