View Full Version : FYI for Korea and Vietnam Vets

12-10-2004, 05:29 PM
Someone posted this info on another forum I belong to and I thought it important to pass along to our veterans here:

Agent Orange

In March of 2003, on the MM listserv (www.acor.org/myeloma.html) a wonderful woman, Taura King, wrote in stating that veterans with MM who were exposed to Agent Orange (AO) were potentially eligible for a vast array of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)benefits. From that post:

I figured that since I was in Korea, and knew nothing about spraying of AO there, that I would not qualify and figured it would be a wast of time to apply. Boy, was Iwrong.... and thus begins the good news for many veterans with MM.

* Disability compensation up to $2,500 per month or more, tax free and separate & apart from Social Security Disability benefits!
* Free medical, dental, and vision at VA facilities.
* Free Prescriptions.
* Free medical coverage for your spouse and dependents through CHAMPVA.
* Free access to military BX, PX, and commissaries (with no sales tax).
* Waiver of vehicle licensing fee (varies by state).
* Reduction or elimination of property tax obligation (varies by state/county).
* Access to military recreation and lodging facilities at reduced charges.
* Educational benefits for yourself (if not already used) and your dependents.
* $10 K life insurance if health issues limited to VA disability, possibly paid premium.
* Free Burial in military graveyard with free headstone.
* Waiver of 2% fee for VA home loan.
* Special Disabled parking privileges (varies with state/county.)

For those stationed in Viet Nam, even if only there for one hour, the VA grants "presumptive eligibility"; that is, one does not have to demonstrate exposure or connection between AO and MM. If you fall into the following categories where the military has ADMITTED spraying or testing AO, there is a reasonably good chance you will qualify for up to a 100% disability rating from the VA. What is required frequently depends upon the regional office and/or the service officer involved in reviewing your claim.
* Soldiers who served on or near the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) in 1968 and 1969.
* Soldiers stationed at Fort Drum, NY in 1959 (testing).

Other areas where veterans allege AO to have been sprayed include:

*Guam from 1955 through 1960s (spraying).
* Johnston Atoll (1972-1978) was used for unused AO storage.
* Panama Canal Zone from 1960s to early 1970s (spraying).

The Military has NOT admitted AO use in the above three locations and thus filing a successful disability claim is much more problematic for those who were there. It is also noted that AO has a half-life of as much as several decades, as noted by the diseases still being experienced by Vietnamese citizens today who farm land sprayed with AO back in the '60s and '70s and who drank the water it was polluted with. Again, however, getting the VA to agree that you contracted MM due to the continued contamination of AO if you served in Korea in the '70s for example is problematic. I'm not sure anyone has been successful in that endeavor.

HOW TO APPLY AND WHAT TO EXPECT! Get a rep from the Viet Nam Vets of America (yes, they WILL help other vets exposed to AO), American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, or Disabiled American Vets to represent you. They know a lot more about this than most of us individually, and they don't charge you a dime to help you. If you call and they DON'T know about this, call another group! The admission about spraying in Korea only came about a couple of years ago, and is not widely publicized. For more information on the disability compensation programs of the VA, go to www.va.gov and click on "Compensation".

The process can take up to 18 months. Mine took only 4 months, and you might be fortunate too. You can help speed the process by providing extensive documentation of your military assignments, your current medical condition and doctors' statements, and a list of your OTHER medical conditions that are a result of MM or the treatment for MM (e.g., peripheral neuropathy, erectile dysfunction, depression, anxiety, sleep apnea).

A list of resources to aid in this process can be found on my homepage at www.caringbridge.org/ca/tomcourbat.
I hope this is of help to our myelomic veterans. *****