Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki admitted during a visit to Salt Lake City that the government did not treat veterans’ exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War as it should have. Veterans waited decades, and some are still waiting, for their various health conditions to be service-connected under VA standards to Agent Orange. While they wait, they are without the medical care and/or compensation they are owed in treating their condition.
At the same time, Secretary Shinseki stood by the VA’s policy of requiring proof of a disease before compensation. Per the VA’s policy, injured veterans must present “scientific” evidence supporting the connection between the exposure and the injury. Shinseki made a point to highlight the money the VA is currently spending researching service-related conditions Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are suffering from due to open-air burn pit exposure. At the same time, Shinseki reinforced the VA requiring “scientific” medical proof is required by law.
Under Shinseki, the VA continues to add to those conditions it recognizes as being caused by exposure to Agent Orange for which the VA compensates veterans. When pressed if the law requiring medical proof of the disease should change given how Vietnam veterans were treated, Shinseki refused to answer.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.