By By Charles Ornstein and Terry Parris Jr.
22 hrs ago
“Rather than siding with veterans, VA is doubling down on an irrational and inconsistent policy,” Senator Richard BlumenthalThe U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has once again turned down an effort by Navy veterans to get compensation for possible exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
In a document released Friday, the VA said it would continue to limit benefits related to Agent Orange exposure to only those veterans who set foot in Vietnam, where the herbicide was sprayed, and to those who were on boats in inland rivers.
The VA compensates these veterans for a litany of associated illnesses, including diabetes, various cancers, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy and a type of heart disease.
Advocates for some 90,000 so-called Blue Water Navy veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam have been asking the VA for more than a decade to broaden the policy to include them. They say they were exposed to Agent Orange because their ships sucked in potentially contaminated water and distilled it for showering, drinking, laundry and cooking. Experts have said the distillation process could have actually concentrated the Agent Orange, which contained the toxic chemical dioxin and was used to kill vegetation and deny enemy cover.
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ProPublica and the Virginian-Pilot are interested in hearing from veterans and family members for our ongoing investigation into the effects of Agent Orange on veterans and their children.