VA officials publish final regulation to aid veterans exposed to Agent Orange in Korea

  • Published
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," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. "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 in the Federal Register, VA officials will presume herbicide exposure for any veteran who served between April 1, 1968, and Aug. 31, 1971, in a unit determined by VA and Department of Defense officials to have operated in an area in or near the Korean DMZ in which herbicides were applied.

Previously, VA officials recognized that Agent Orange exposure could only be conceded 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 VA officials presume 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.

Click on these links to learn about Veterans' diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure and birth defects in children of Vietnam-era Veterans.

VA officials encourage veterans with covered service in Korea 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 agency representatives can begin processing their claims.

Individuals can go to the Filing Claims for Presumptive Conditions Based on Herbicide Exposure website to get a more complete understanding of how to file a claim for presumptive conditions related to herbicide exposure, as well as what evidence is needed by VA to make a decision about disability compensation or survivors benefits.

Additional information about Agent Orange and VA's services for Veterans exposed to the chemical is available at this website.

The regulation is available on the Office of the Federal Register website.

(Courtesy of Veterans Affairs News Service)