- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dear Sgt Shaft:

Where can I find a list of units presumed exposed to Agent Orange while in service in Korea? Thanks

Larry A.
Via the Internet

Dear Larry:

Veterans who served in a unit in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) anytime between April 1, 1968, and Aug. 31, 1971, and who have a disease VA recognizes as associated with Agent Orange exposure are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides. These veterans do not have to show they were exposed to Agent Orange to get disability compensation for these diseases.

VA and the Department of Defense must determine the veteran’s unit operated in the DMZ area and the veteran was physically there. VA’s final regulation presuming herbicide exposure for these veterans took effect on Feb. 24, 2011.

This means that eligibility is not determined by assignment to a particular unit, but rather by the individual proving he was physically at the DMZ during the period indicated.

Shaft notes

• Veterans who served aboard U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships operating on the waters of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, may be eligible to receive Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation for 14 medical conditions associated with presumptive exposure to Agent Orange.

An updated list of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships confirmed to have operated on Vietnam’s inland waterways, docked on shore, or had crew members sent ashore, has been posted at http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/ to assist Vietnam veterans in determining potential eligibility for compensation benefits.

“Posting of the ships list is an important recognition of the sacrifices U.S. Navy and Coast Guard veterans made for this nation,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “It provides an easier path for veterans who served in Vietnam to get the benefits and services they are entitled to under the law.”

VA presumes herbicide exposure for any veteran with duty or visitation within the country of Vietnam or on its inland waterways during the Vietnam era. Comprehensive information about the 14 recognized illnesses under VA’s “presumption” rule for Agent Orange is also located on the website.

In practical terms, veterans with qualifying Vietnam service who develop a disease associated with Agent Orange exposure need not prove a medical link between their illnesses and their military service. This presumption simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits.

For questions about Agent Orange and the online list of ships, veterans may call VA’s Special Issues Helpline at 1-800-749-8387 and press 3.

When a claim is filed by a veteran, surviving spouse or child, VA will determine whether the veteran qualifies for the presumption of exposure based on official records of the ship’s operations. Ships will be regularly added to the list based on information confirmed in these official records.

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