Veterans exposed to Agent Orange have benefited from the presumptive conditions list for several years. In a nutshell, the presumptive conditions list automatically qualifies certain Veterans to receive disability compensation if they served in certain places and if they developed certain health conditions during or after their military service.
For most of those years, Veterans who served in Guam haven’t enjoyed the same guaranteed benefits or medical support, but this has recently changed. Today, let’s look at disability compensation for Veterans exposed to Agent Orange in Guam.
Agent Orange was a tactical herbicide utilized by the US military during the Vietnam War and during related conflicts around the same timeframe. Agent Orange was used to deforest swaths of land, enabling military activities and clearing away foliage that prevented troop movements.
While Agent Orange was very effective in its stated goal, it had several major side effects. Veterans exposed to Agent Orange later developed severe health conditions that have continued into the present day. That’s because Agent Orange is mixed with toxic compounds, including a dioxin contaminant called 2,3,7,8-TCDD.
The US military was initially not certain about the health effects or risks associated with Agent Orange exposure. Many Veterans know firsthand that exposure to Agent Orange can be dangerous.
Many Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and similar chemicals developed a wide variety of diseases, including but not limited to:
Unfortunately, many of these Veterans had to wait decades before they received the attention and recognition of the US government and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Thankfully, many Veterans have been able to take advantage of the presumptive conditions list over the last several years.
The presumptive conditions list includes a list of qualifying medical conditions that enable affected Veterans who served in areas where Agent Orange was released to receive disability compensation without the need to prove or receive service connection.
If you or a loved one have a health issue on the presumptive conditions list, you may get disability benefits faster and more easily than otherwise.
Originally, no. However, the 2022 update to the PACT Act added Guam and American Samoa to the areas where Veterans may have been exposed to the chemical.
Specifically, the 2022 update added the below locations and time frames:
If you or a loved one served in the military in the above locations and during the above time frames, and if you have one of the health issues on the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list, you could qualify for disability compensation.
In Guam, Agent Orange was deployed for the same reasons and objectives as it was deployed in Vietnam: to remove the foliage in difficult to diverse areas.
According to historical archives, government records, and private records, Agent Orange was potentially used in the following locations in Guam:
Therefore, if you look at your service records and discover that you served in one of these locations, then developed a health condition on the presumptive conditions list, you can attribute that health issue to Agent Orange exposure.
As of February 2021, recent studies and efforts from the National Veterans Legal Services Program and Yale Law School have indicated that the military may have utilized Agent Orange and other dioxin-containing herbicides in Guam and surrounding areas.
According to the most recently updated report, the likely Agent Orange exposure period has been expanded to between 1958 and 1980. The report breaks down errors with prior testing that did not specifically look for dioxin and other trace or marker chemicals that could be associated with other tactical and toxic herbicides.
You could still qualify for benefits if you served in Guam before 1962 but still developed a health condition associated with Agent Orange exposure. It’s important to speak to knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys immediately to understand your rights and help yourself and your fellow service members push for further PACT Act expansions.
Suppose you qualify as a Veteran with a condition on the presumptive conditions list. In that case, you can get disability benefits to pay for medical bills and related expenses by filing a disability benefits claim.
If you believe you are entitled to disability benefits, but your condition isn’t on the presumptive conditions list, or there’s some other confounding factor, you may still qualify with a traditional application.
If you need to appeal a determination, increase your rating, or appeal your effective date, the knowledgeable team at Berry Law can help in many ways, including:
Given all these advantages, there’s no reason not to contact Berry Law immediately.
If you served in Guam or American Samoa between January 9, 1962, and July 30, 1980, you might qualify for disability compensation if your health issues are on the Agent Orange presumptive condition list. If you have questions about whether you qualify, there’s no one better to talk to than Berry Law.
At Berry Law, our lawyers are well-equipped and ready to review your case, break down the details, and provide sound legal counsel. Contact us today to learn more.
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