Diabetes Linked to Herbicide Exposure

Article excerpt

DEAR SGT. SHAFT:

On Nov. 9, 2000, the VA announced the determination that there is a "positive association" between Type 2 diabetes and the herbicides used in Vietnam. A proposed regulatory amendment to 38 CFR 3.309(e), adding Type 2 diabetes to the VA's list of diseases for which VA allows presumptive service-connection based on herbicide exposure (including Agent Orange), was published in the Federal Register, pages 2376-2380, on Jan. 11, 2001.

The final regulation adding Type 2 diabetes to the list of diseases associated with Agent Orange was published in the Federal Register on May 8, 2001. The regulation will become effective July 9, 2001.

What does this mean? If a veteran was exposed to an herbicide agent (including Agent Orange) during active military, naval, or air service in the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning Jan. 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975, Type 2 diabetes shall be service-connected even though there may be no record of diabetes during service. A veteran with diabetes is considered to have been exposed to an herbicide agent if he or she served on active duty in the Republic of Vietnam during this period. To establish entitlement for service-connected compensation benefits for Type 2 diabetes, supporting evidence must show two things:

* You served on active duty in the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning Jan. 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975. If you do not have them, VA will get your service records and will review them to see if they contain the evidence needed to verify your service in the Republic of Vietnam during the period indicated. VA will also get other military service records, if necessary.

* A current diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. This can be shown by medical evidence indicating a confirmation of Type 2 diabetes. VA will obtain any VA medical records or other medical treatment records you indicate to support this diagnosis. You can also give VA other evidence showing you have persistent or recurrent symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. The evidence could be your own statement or statements from others describing your symptoms.

* Any veteran with in-country Vietnam service and diagnosed diabetes mellitus should contact his or her local VA office for information and assistance on applying for benefits. However, the VA cannot award benefits until the regulation takes effect.

For more information, veterans should visit the Agent Orange Web page (www.vba.va.gov/bin21/benefits/herbicide/index.htm) or log on to the VA Compensation and Pension Internet site (www.vba.ba.gov/bin21/index.htm), which has inquiry capability into the Agent Orange Helpline Unit (SMTP: GWIAOHelpline zvba.va.gov). Information is also available toll-free at the Agent Orange Helpline, 800/749-8387.

-Joseph Thompson, undersecretary of veterans affairs for benefits

Dear Undersecretary Thompson:

Thank you for sharing this vital information with my readers. I am sure you want to re-emphasize the following advice you have given to veterans maneuvering the VA claim process: "You can always reach the VA from anywhere in the United States by dialing, toll-free, 800/827-1000. …