The United States Veterans Affairs Department is considering adding more diseases to the list of diseases presumed to be caused by Agent Orange exposure in veterans. The VA working group formed because of a report released by the Institute of Medicine in March, in which IOM surveyed research regarding the health effects of Agent Orange. The IOM found evidence that three illnesses in particular are more likely linked to Agent Orange exposure than previously thought:
- Bladder cancer
- Parkinson's-like symptoms
The VA working group will consider adding these illnesses to the list of 15 that already exist. Ultimately, they will make their recommendations to the VA Secretary. The entire process could take a couple of years.
If these illnesses are added to the list, it could mean thousands of veterans will be able to get health coverage and VA disability compensation if they are suffering from one or more of the diseases.
Additionally, the IOM report downgraded the status of spina bifida in the children of veterans. Spina bifida in offspring remains on the list of 15 illnesses, however, the IOM report downgraded spina bifida in children from "limited or suggestive evidence" it is related to Agent Orange exposure, to "inadequate or insufficient evidence" that it is linked. The IOM said the research did not support that the disease in offspring was related to exposure. Regardless, the VA says this finding will not affect the disability benefits currently being paid to veterans' children.
Veterans who believe they may have developed a health condition because of exposure to Agent Orange should file a claim. Even if the illness is not on the list, the VA will usually consider these claims on a case-by-case basis, and you may be able to get health coverage and disability benefits.