VA announced today 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," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough. "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 v. 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
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 September 19, 2001, or in Afghanistan and
Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War.
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 it
encourages them to participate in the rulemaking process.