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Home Agent Orange Agent Orange: Frequently Asked Questions

Agent Orange: Frequently Asked Questions

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This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about Agent Orange:

  • What is Agent Orange?
  • Where and when was Agent Orange used in Vietnam?
  • What can Veterans with health concerns about Agent Orange do? 
  • What health problems are related to Agent Orange exposure? 
  • I’m a Veteran and think I have a disability related to Agent Orange exposure. How can I get VA compensation? 
  • Do I need to prove that I was exposed to Agent Orange to be eligible for health services related to Agent Orange exposure? 
  • What does the Agent Orange Registry examination involve? Does it cost anything? 
  • What other Veterans besides Vietnam Veterans are eligible for the Agent Orange Registry? 
  • Why should Veterans participate in the Agent Orange Registry Examination?
  • What benefits are available for children of Vietnam-era Veterans exposed to Agent Orange?
  • What research is VA and other Federal agencies conducting on Agent Orange?
  • What is the Agent Orange Class Action Lawsuit?
  • Who can I contact to get additional information?

What is Agent Orange?

Agent Orange was an herbicide used in Vietnam to defoliate plants and trees that provided cover for the enemy. The name “Agent Orange” came from the orange stripe on the 55-gallon drums in which it was stored.

Where and when was Agent Orange used in Vietnam?

Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed more than 19 million gallons of herbicides in South Vietnam for defoliation and crop destruction. They used several types and combinations of chemicals, identified by the color of the stripe on the storage drums. The most common was Agent Orange, which was sprayed from January 1965 to April 1970. Some of the herbicides used in the early years contained greater concentrations of dioxin.

All four military zones of Vietnam were sprayed. Heavily sprayed areas included inland forests near the demarcation zone; inland forests at the junction of the borders of Cambodia, Laos, and South Vietnam; inland forests north and northwest of Saigon; mangrove forests on the southernmost peninsula of Vietnam; and mangrove forests along major shipping channels southeast of Saigon.

What can Veterans with health concerns about Agent Orange do?

In 1978, the Veterans Administration, now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs, set up the Agent Orange Registry health examination program for Vietnam Veterans concerned about possible long-term health effects of exposure to Agent Orange. Vietnam Veterans interested in participating in this program should contact the Environmental Health Coordinator or Patient Care Advocate at the nearest VA medical center to schedule an examination.

What health problems are related to Agent Orange exposure?

VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as related to exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. Learn about Veterans' diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure and birth defects in children of Vietnam-era Veterans.

I’m a Veteran and think I have a disability related to Agent Orange exposure. How can I get VA compensation?

First, apply for disability compensation. You can apply for disability compensation online. Visit VA’s Guide on Agent Orange Claims to learn more about the evidence you need to submit and the claims process.

Do I need to prove that I was exposed to Agent Orange to be eligible for health services related to Agent Orange exposure?

If you served in Vietnam or another area where Agent Orange was sprayed, you do not have to prove that you were exposed to Agent Orange in order to get health benefits related to Agent Orange exposure, including the Agent Orange Registry examination. VA automatically recognizes that you may have been exposed to Agent Orange and therefore are eligible for services. Contact the Environmental Health Coordinator or Patient Care Advocate at the nearest VA medical center to schedule an examination.

What does the Agent Orange Registry examination involve? Does it cost anything?

The Agent Orange Registry examination is free for Veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange. Health professionals will ask you about possible exposure to herbicides in Vietnam and take a medical history. They also will perform a physical examination, which includes a series of basic laboratory tests, such as a chest X-ray (if appropriate), urinalysis, and blood tests. If medically required, consultations with other health specialists are scheduled. Contact the Environmental Health Coordinator or Patient Care Advocate at the nearest VA medical center to schedule an examination.

What other Veterans besides Vietnam Veterans are eligible for the Agent Orange Registry?





 

Veterans who may have been exposed to dioxin or other toxic substances in a herbicide or defoliant during a military operation or as a result of testing, transporting, or spraying herbicides for military purposes may be eligible for the Agent Orange Registry health examination. Contact the Environmental Health Coordinator or Patient Care Advocate at the nearest VA medical center to schedule an examination.

Why should Veterans participate in the Agent Orange Registry Examination?

Sometimes Veterans think they are in good health, but are worried that exposure to Agent Orange and other substances may have caused some hidden illnesses. A complete medical examination that does not show any problems can be reassuring. All examination and test results are entered into the confidential Agent Orange Registry and also are kept in the Veteran’s permanent medical record.

What benefits are available for children of Vietnam-era Veterans exposed to Agent Orange?

Certain Vietnam-era Veterans’ children with the birth defect spina bifida may be eligible for VA compensation, health care, and vocational training. VA also provides these benefits to eligible children with other covered birth defects who were born to female Vietnam Veterans. Learn more about benefits for Veterans’ children with birth defects.

What research is VA and other Federal agencies conducting on Agent Orange?

VA continues to conduct research to learn more about the possible adverse health effects of military service in Vietnam. The Environmental Epidemiology Service is the primary office for Vietnam/Agent Orange-related research within VA. In addition, the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, a non-governmental organization, has reviewed and continues to evaluate all relevant scientific literature and to provide advice to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on health effects of herbicides exposure. Learn more about findings from research on health effects of Agent Orange exposure.

What is the Agent Orange Class Action Lawsuit?

In re “Agent Orange” Product Liability Litigation, Vietnam Veterans and their families brought a class action lawsuit against seven chemical manufacturing companies for injuries the Veterans and their families claimed may have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in Vietnam. On May 7, 1984, a tentative out-of-court settlement was announced. Under the terms of the settlement the chemical companies agreed to pay $180 million, reportedly the largest settlement of its kind at that time. From 1988 to 1994, following various appeals, the Settlement Fund distributed a total of $197 million in cash to approximately 52,000 totally disabled Vietnam Veterans or their survivors. On September 27, 1997, the District Court ordered the Fund closed, its assets having been fully distributed.

Who can I contact to get additional information?

Call the toll-free helpline 1-800-749-8387 and press 3 for help with VA health care, compensation, and other benefits for health problems related to Agent Orange exposure. Call 1-800-829-4833, if you are hearing impaired. Also, for health care benefits and registry examinations, you may directly contact the Environmental Health Coordinator or Patient Care Advocate at the nearest VA medical center.

 

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