New study pressures VA to expand Agent Orange compensation

Agent Orange Spraying

Army Chemical Corps Vietnam-Era Veterans Health Study

A new study linking exposure to herbicides and hypertension may establish eligibility for VA disability compensation for Agent Orange high blood pressure claims.

The Army Chemical Corps Vietnam-Era Veterans Health Study (2012-2013) was designed to learn if high blood pressure (hypertension) and some chronic respiratory diseases are related to herbicide exposure during the Vietnam War.

Latest update: Among U.S. Army Chemical Corps Veterans, VA researchers found an association between both hypertension risk and exposure to herbicides, and hypertension risk and military service in Vietnam. Other findings from this study will be published in the future.

Background

This study follows a request by former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki for VA to conduct research on the association between herbicide exposure and high blood pressure (hypertension), as a basis for understanding if hypertension is related to military service in Vietnam.  VA is also interested in learning more about the relationship between herbicide exposure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

similar study was conducted between 1999-2000.

Goals

Researchers had two questions:

  1. Is the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) related to Agent Orange exposure during service in Vietnam?
  2. Is the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, related to Agent Orange exposure during service in Vietnam?

Participants

Researchers asked approximately 4,000 Veterans who served in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps during the Vietnam era (1965-1973) to participate in this study.  Army Chemical Corps personnel were responsible for the maintenance and distribution or application of chemicals for military operations. Army Chemical Corps personnel who served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War constitute one of the largest groups of Vietnam Veterans who were thought to have had the greatest potential exposure to herbicides.

Presumptive Conditions

VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Veterans and their survivors may be eligible for disability compensation or survivors’ benefits for these diseases: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/index.asp

If the VA concedes the findings of the study, hypertension would be added to the list of presumptive conditions which would allow veterans to file Agent Orange high blood pressure claims. At the time of implementation of a new ruling, any claims that are currently open or on appeal may be granted effective on the date of the claim.

– Source: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/epidemiology/studies/vietnam-army-chemical-corps.asp#sthash.Q9ZP6722.dpuf