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New presumptives for Agent Orange


Last updated 7/6/2021 at 10:06am | View PDF

The Department of Veterans Affairs has added three presumptives to its list of illnesses caused by Agent Orange: bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism.

The new ones are added to: AL amyloidosis, chronic B-cell leukemias, chloracne, diabetes mellitus Type 2, Hodgkin’s disease, ischemic heart disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy early-onset, porphyria cutanea tarda, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers and soft tissue sarcomas.

We have Nehmer vs. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to thank for that, the 1986 class-action lawsuit that continues to give and give. If you previously filed for benefits for the three new illnesses, your case will now automatically be reviewed. No need to refile. Each time a new illness is added, Nehmer means that any previous claims for illnesses will be reviewed and disability pay will be retroactive to the date of the initial claim.

But that’s not all. The VA will now consider making a list of respiratory illnesses into presumptives. They’re calling it “particulate matter pollution,” coming from the burn pits, as well as sandstorm dust, pollution, fuels, vehicle exhaust and dirt from farming or construction. Illnesses they’re looking at include asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis for those who served in the Persian Gulf War after Sept. 19, 2001, or in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War.

When it comes to air-quality presumptives, one wonders about the incinerator outside Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan that ran from 1985 to 2001, spewing 90 tons of medical and industrial waste daily. The VA website says there is no scientific evidence that the incinerator caused risk of disease and therefore no presumptive illnesses ... yet the site has many medical links, including one from 1994 that says air monitoring indicated there was a “significantly elevated risk to human health” from those incinerator emissions. In 2001, it followed up with a 574-page Human Health Risk Assessment. The VA needs to read it.

(c) 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.


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