By Marsha M. Brown
As a Vietnam veteran or the spouse of a deceased Vietnam veteran, you may have received a letter from the Department of Veteran Affairs within the last few weeks. The notification addressed the possibility that you may be entitled to further compensation for a claim you may have submitted in the past that had been denied.
My understanding is that effective January 1, 2021, a new law Congress enacted added three new conditions “presumptively associated with exposure to herbicide agents” listed as: Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism.
The notification further referenced that a next of kin may receive the notice but that if the veteran is not deceased to notify the V.A. with the veteran’s contact information.
This is a good thing that additional presumptive conditions have been added, though I still find it difficult to understand why other conditions are still exempt from inclusion i.e., brain cancer etc. I am puzzled as to why veterans who have physical, mental, and emotional illnesses and/or conditions or that death occurred because of exposure to harmful chemicals during their service have ever been denied at all. It isn’t that the covered conditions that are currently acknowledged aren’t appreciated…of course they are…but…haven’t Vietnam and Blue Water vets and their families been through enough?
It makes me sad that so many veterans have no doubt resisted contact, further affiliation or communication with the V.A. or follow up for help after their return from Vietnam and in essence missed the opportunity to receive deserved compensation before they passed. The V.A. isn’t a bad thing…its obviously had serious problems over the years and some veterans have shared their heartaches with me over dealing with submitted and denied claims…but on the other side, some veterans have been shocked after re-submission of their claim that finally resulted in a monthly compensation and even retroactive compensation back to the time they originally submitted their claim that was denied.
If you are a veteran who took your time in the past to submit a claim and it was denied and you feel it would be another waste of your time; or that conjuring up your service memories, activities, locations where you served would be upsetting…just consider that the V.A. have expanded the list of conditions and it could help you and your family to re-submit your claim or at least talk to Dare County Veteran Service Officer, Patty O’Sullivan. She can be reached through her office: (252) 475-5604 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org Patty cannot determine the outcome, nor can she guarantee approval but she can and will help you to the best of her ability to gather the pertinent information necessary to convey on your behalf and help you process your claim paperwork.
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If you have been denied in the past or feel that you don’t want to try again, I so respect your position on that…but as a veteran who deserves so much…and as your cheerleader, (me) I hope you reconsider. Who would have thought that Diabetes II (that you may suffer from right now) is potentially a result of your exposure to Agent Orange? PLEASE don’t be stubborn about this. You’ve been through a lot and as an active, devoted veteran advocate for 10 years now, I encourage you to at least talk to Patty and if she encourages you to further consider submitting a claim…either your first or your second…please take her advice. The result could be disappointing, I won’t lie…but it could also result in a pleasant surprise and such a financial blessing to you and your family who deserve it.
Also…I have recommended before that you talk to your health care provider and make certain they know that you served in Vietnam and were potentially exposed to Agent Orange. Veterans have told me they never considered that their illness or condition was even on a “presumptive list”. In addition to the three newly included illnesses listed above, other conditions include: Chronic B-cell Leukemia; Hodgkin’s disease; Multiple myeloma; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; Prostate cancer; Respiratory cancers including lung cancer, cancers of the larynx, trachea, and bronchus; some soft tissue sarcomas; AL amyloidosis; Chloracne; Diabetes mellitus type 2; Ischemic heart disease; Peripheral neuropathy and Porphyria cutanea tarde.
Medical terminology is difficult to remember or even say, so if you want, search: va.gov/presumptive list, print it out and take it to your doctor to make sure they are aware that the conditions you may suffer from right now could relate to your service in Vietnam.
In closing, please know this…AS A VETERAN, YOU ARE IMPORTANT…YOU MATTER…V.A. DISABILITY COMPENSTATION IS NOT A GIFT…if you have medical issues because of your service in our United States military…please consider you may be due earned compensation but the only way you will know is to confer with your medical professionals and our Veteran Service Officer…Patty.
Okay…I’ll get off my soap box now…I care about you…you are our veteran, and you are worthy.
Until next time, be healthy, safe, and happy…love one another and pray for those who perpetuate dissention, heartache and disrespect to our beautiful flag, our law enforcement and to our nation overall. God bless them and God help us all. If you know a vet who could use some help, please contact me: (252) 202-2058; or through my email: email@example.com – or again…contact Patty. I love you all…I really do. Stay tuned!