The Effects of Agent Orange on Veteran’s Offspring

The Effects of Agent Orange on Veteran’s Offspring

Even today, many American Veterans are suffering from the health effects of the Vietnam War.

Though it happened decades ago, Veterans are still facing the consequences of the military’s involvement in Vietnam and seeking health care for ongoing issues.

Not only are those who may have PTSD or other forms of mental illness, but many suffer from physical health problems because of military service in Vietnam.

One of the defining characteristics of the Vietnam War was the use of Agent Orange. But what is Agent Orange, and what were the effects for those who used it or were exposed to it?

This article will answer those questions and describe the benefits that Vietnam War Veterans are entitled to from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Key Takeaways:

  • You’ll learn what Agent Orange is
  • You’ll understand the effects of chemical exposure and contaminants on Veterans
  • You’ll know how herbicide exposure affects children of Vietnam Veterans
  • You’ll learn about the benefits for Veterans who were exposed to and affected by Agent Orange

What Is Agent Orange?

Those unfamiliar with the Vietnam War may be wondering what Agent Orange is. Agent Orange was a chemical herbicide that the U.S. military used to clear out trees and other plants while combating Vietnamese forces. The chemical was primarily used during a military campaign known as Operation Ranch Hand.

Like many other chemicals, exposure to Agent Orange can be dangerous. When the U.S. military was using it, there was not much knowledge about the long-term effects it would have on people.

It was only later that the primary chemical in Agent Orange, called dioxin, was found to be extremely toxic. Dioxin exposure is now linked to a host of health issues.

Throughout the whole course of the war, over 12 million gallons were used. This means that many people, both Veterans and civilians, were exposed to Agent Orange. 

People were harmed by Agent Orange by inhaling the fumes. Not only did Agent Orange affect those directly exposed to it, but it has indirectly affected their dependents as well.

What Conditions Is Agent Orange Related To?

Agent Orange can contribute to numerous health conditions:

  • Chloracne
  • Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • B-Cell Leukemia
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Respiratory Cancer
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Exposure to Agent Orange does not have to be long in order to cause some of these diseases. Even short-term exposure can cause multiple conditions that are listed above.

If you are a Veteran who served in Vietnam, suffered from any of these diseases listed above, and were exposed to Agent Orange, you may be entitled to benefits and compensation.

Does Agent Orange Cause Birth Defects For Veteran’s Offspring?

One of the most controversial issues surrounding Agent Orange is its effects on offspring after paternal exposure.

Many studies seek to understand the effects of Agent Orange on male Veterans’ offspring. The conclusions of all of them vary, which leads to confusion and controversy. However, over time, exposure to dioxin has been linked to the following in Veterans’ children:

  • Neural Tube Defects
  • Congenital Heart Disease
  • Spina Bifida, a malformation of the spinal cord
  • Cleft Palate
  • Hypospadias
  • Endocrine system-related disorders

Veterans exposed to Agent Orange can seek disability compensation from the VA if their children suffer from any congenital disabilities and they served in the Vietnam war.

When they returned from Vietnam, some service members noticed that their children were born with a disease, missing limbs, extra limbs, cleft lips, and more.

When Veterans began to notice the birth defects in their children, the VA started to compensate those exposed to Agent Orange and who had children with birth defects. However, they only gave compensation to children who suffered from spina bifida or some of the children of female Vietnam Veterans.

Because disability benefits were only given to Veterans who had children with spina bifida, many Veterans were left out, even if their children had birth defects.


The VA pours out an enormous amount of money every year for Veteran benefits — as much as Congress permits. If they were to give benefits to all the Veterans who had children with birth defects they could presume were caused by Agent Orange, that would be millions of dollars more.

Sadly, there are not enough definite studies to prove that all the birth defects of children born to parents exposed to Agent Orange are directly caused by the chemical.

However, some studies show that Veterans’ children are about 13% more likely to have birth defects if their parent was exposed to Agent Orange than those who were not exposed to it.

Agent Orange has affected generations of people. Though there are difficulties in securing benefits for children with birth defects, Veterans should still seek to talk to an experienced attorney so that they can make a claim through the VA.

How To Get Service Connection With Agent Orange?

Veterans who suffer from symptoms related to Agent Orange should seek benefits and compensation from the VA.

Making a claim through the VA for Agent Orange exposure and its symptoms is a bit different from other claims.

This is because Agent Orange exposure is presumed by the VA if a Veteran shows that they are diagnosed with one of the diseases or disabilities that Agent Orange causes.

There are some diseases that the VA does not presume, which can lead them to deny claims. Before a Veteran begins the claims process, they should know what diseases the VA presumes, including the diseases listed above.

There are usually three components for a typical VA claim:

  • The Veteran must prove a current disability
  • An in-service connection has to be made
  • A medical nexus between the in-service stressor and current diagnosis

Usually, if a claim is missing any one of these things, the VA will deny a claim.

Instead, under the presumptive nature of Agent Orange exposure, a Veteran has to have records that show that they served either in:

  • Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975
  • Korean Demilitarized Zone between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971
  • Or the Air Force, between 1969 and 1986 and regularly maintained and operated a C-123 aircraft

If a Veteran did not serve in any of these circumstances but still suffered from exposure to harmful herbicides, they might still be able to receive benefits.

In this circumstance, a Veteran must show either that they served:

  • In a place where the military stored or tested herbicides
  • In Department of Defense projects where herbicides were tested

How To Make an Appeal

There are many mistakes that the VA makes every year. Sometimes it goes overlooked, and Veterans that deserve benefits do not get them.

If a Veteran’s claim is denied, they should know that they can appeal any decision the VA makes.

Making an appeal is not an easy task, though. The VA is known to have a complicated process for their claims process and even more for making an appeal. 

For the VA to go through a Veteran’s appeal can take years, prolonging the time it takes for Veterans to receive their benefits.

There are usually two forms of VA decisions that Veterans will decide to appeal. They are either a denial or a low rating for a disability, which gives the Veteran fewer benefits.

In regard to Agent Orange, sometimes the VA will deny a Veteran’s claim because they do not recognize a disease or disability as one of their presumptive diseases.

When this happens, a Veteran has three different options for an appeal. They can either:

  • Make a supplemental claim
  • Request a higher-level review
  • Appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals

Suppose the VA does not find an illness to be connected with Agent Orange. In that case, a Veteran may want to compile more evidence to prove that their illness was caused by their exposure to Agent Orange or another harmful herbicide.

Visiting a VA medical doctor could help gather the proper evidence to connect the in-service stressor and the current diagnosis. 

Before a Veteran begins the appeals process, they should contact an attorney experienced with the VA to have the most effective appeal they can make.

Many Veterans are unaware of the details surrounding the VA and how they make the decisions they do. An experienced attorney will make sure that all of the pieces are there, and they will be able to advocate and work for the Veteran.


Agent Orange not only affected Veterans directly exposed to it, but it also affected generations of offspring after them.

Many people are still unaware of the effects of Agent Orange. Though many studies have been done, research remains inconclusive, leading to much controversy.

Veterans must know that they can get benefits for being exposed to Agent Orange and suffering from its effects.

For more information on VA benefits and Agent Orange, visit our website.


What is Agent Orange? | The Aspen Institute

Effects on Veterans’ Descendants – Veterans and Agent Orange | NCBI Bookshelf

15 Diseases Caused by Agent Orange Exposure |

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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