Agent Orange is the name given to a blend of herbicides the U.S. military sprayed from 1962 to 1971 in Vietnam to remove plants and leaves from foliage that provided enemy cover. The name Agent Orange came from the orange identifying stripe around the 55-gallon drums in which it was stored.
For the purposes of VA benefits, veterans who served in Vietnam anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. Service in Vietnam means service on land in Vietnam or on the inland waterways of Vietnam. This includes veterans who:
- Set foot in Vietnam, which includes brief visits ashore, such as when a ship docked to the shore of Vietnam or when a ship operated in Vietnam’s close coastal waters for extended periods and crew members went ashore on smaller vessels with supplies or personnel. The veteran must provide proof of personally going ashore.
- Served on a ship while it operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam. These veterans are also referred to as “Brown Water Veterans.”
Blue Water Veterans
Veterans who served on open sea ships off the shore of Vietnam during the Vietnam War are called “Blue Water Veterans.” The Blue Water Navy (BWN) Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 extended the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975. Beginning January 1, 2020, veterans who served as far as 12 nautical miles from the shore of Vietnam, or who had service in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange and may be entitled to service connection for any of the 14 conditions listed below.
Korean Demilitarized Zone
Veterans who served in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) anytime between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971 are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange.
Thailand Military Bases
Vietnam-era veterans whose service involved duty on or near the perimeters of military bases in Thailand anytime between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975 may have been exposed to Agent Orange and may qualify for VA benefits. This would apply to the following:
- U.S. Air Force veterans who served on Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) bases at U-Tapao, Ubon, Nakhon Phanom, Udorn, Takhli, Korat, and Don Muang near the air base perimeter.
- U.S. Army veterans who provided perimeter security on RTAF bases in Thailand.
- U.S. Army veterans who were stationed on some small Army installations in Thailand; however, the Army veteran must have been a member of a Military Police (MP) Unit or was assigned as an MP Military Occupational Specialty whose duty placed him/her at or near the base perimeter.
To receive benefits, these veterans must show on a factual basis that they were exposed to herbicides during their service as shown by evidence of daily work duties, performance evaluation reports, or other credible evidence.
Airplanes Used In Vietnam
Some veterans who were crew members on C-123 Provider Aircraft formerly used to spray Agent Orange during the Vietnam War have raised health concerns about exposure to residual amounts of herbicides on the plane surfaces. After reviewing available scientific reports, the VA has concluded the potential for long-term effects from Agent Orange residue in these planes was minimal. Even if crew exposure did occur, it is unlikely that sufficient amounts of dried Agent Orange residue could have entered the body to have caused harm.
Agent Orange and other herbicides used in Vietnam were tested or stored elsewhere including some military bases in the United States.
Veterans may be eligible for service-connected disability compensation for diseases the VA has recognized as associated with exposure to Agent Orange if they served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962-May 7, 1975. Veterans who served in Thailand between February 28, 1961-May 7, 1975 and veterans who served in or near the Korean DMZ between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971 may also be eligible.
The presumed disabilities are:
- Acute and Subacute Peripheral Neuropathy: This must be at least 10% disabling within 1 year of exposure to Agent Orange and resolve within 2 years after the date it began.
- AL Amyloidosis
- Chloracne (or similar Acneform Disease): This must be at least 10% disabling within 1 year of exposure to Agent Orange.
- Chronic B-cell Leukemias
- Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2)
- Hodgkin’s Disease
- Ischemic Heart Disease
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
- Prostate Cancer
- Respiratory Cancers
- Soft Tissue Sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s Sarcoma or Mesothelioma)
Additionally, any secondary condition that is caused by one of the aforementioned conditions can also be claimed as a service-connected disability. To claim secondary conditions they must be noted in your medical record as being caused by the service-connected condition.
Agent Orange Registry Examination
VA established the Agent Orange Registry to track the special health concerns of veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange during their military service. It is a comprehensive exam and includes documenting exposure and medical history, laboratory results, and a complete physical exam. There is no cost to the veteran and enrollment in the VA healthcare system is not required in order to have this exam, although enrollment is strongly encouraged. An Agent Orange Registry Health Exam is not a claim for service-connected disabilities, it is simply an exam.
To be eligible for this exam, a veteran must have served in Vietnam or elsewhere where the herbicide was known to have been sprayed. Brown and Blue Water Navy veterans are also eligible for this exam.