Magazine article VFW Magazine

New Agent Orange Conditions Not Likely until Later This Year

Magazine article VFW Magazine

New Agent Orange Conditions Not Likely until Later This Year

Article excerpt

A provision in the recently enacted National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of2020 required VA to explain to Congress by the end of January why there has been a delay in announcing any decisions for adding diseases to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list.

According to a January Military Times report, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie sent a letter to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the ranking member of the Senate VA Committee. Wilkie claimed in the letter that a VA decision on adding Agent Orange presumptive conditions wouldn't be ready until at least "late 2020."

VFW Commander-in-Chief William "Doc" Schmitz, a Vietnam War veteran, said VA "must do the right thing" by approving additional Agent Orange presumptive conditions.

"We cannot, and will not, stand by and allow another veteran to lose his or her life because of the bureaucracy of Washington," Schmitz said. "The time for waiting is over."

Last year during a Congressional testimony, Richard Stone, the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, said a decision on three illnesses potentially connected to Agent Orange exposure were likely to be announced in 2019. However, the VA never announced any additions to the Agent Orange presumptive diseases list.

In November 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 11 (2018). The report linked Agent Orange exposure to hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, a condition with no symptoms that is caused when an abnormal protein is present in the blood stream. The report also recommended that VA add the conditions to the current list of 14 Agent Orange presumptive diseases.

In 2016, the Academies published findings that suggested bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson's-like tremors also could have been caused by Agent Orange exposure. …

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