Agent Orange & Veterans Who Served in Okinawa

Agent Orange & Veterans Who Served in Okinawa

Agent Orange is one of the most devastating and widespread pesticides the United States military used in conflicts like the Vietnam and Korean Wars. 

Many Veterans of these conflicts know that they are entitled to VA disability compensation if they report some long-term health conditions or diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure.

In recent years, many Veterans who served in Okinawa during or after the Vietnam and Korean Wars reported symptoms related to Agent Orange exposure. If you or a loved one are one of these Veterans, you may wonder whether you can acquire Okinawa Agent Orange compensation benefits. Read on for more information. 

What Is Agent Orange?

Agent Orange is a tactical herbicide that the US military previously used to clear out harmful or blockading vegetation in conflicts like the Vietnam War and some ancillary conflicts. Although Agent Orange was effective in this regard, Veterans exposed to it developed various health complications.

Because of these health complications, many Veterans qualify for disability benefits and compensation purely by exposure to Agent Orange. Veterans who have one or more “presumptive conditions” may automatically qualify for disability benefits if they prove they could have been exposed to Agent Orange at some point during their service.

Common Conditions Caused by Agent Orange Exposure

The VA maintains a comprehensive list of the conditions and diseases that may have been caused or aggravated by Agent Orange exposure. These include various cancers, such as:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Hodgkin’s disease

However, Agent Orange disability benefits also assume that various other conditions are caused or aggravated by exposure to this tactical herbicide. Some other presumptive conditions, according to the VA, include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Peripheral neuropathy

If you or a loved one served in the military and developed one of these conditions, you may qualify for disability benefits. Suppose you were exposed to Agent Orange during your service. In that case, you should qualify for automatic benefits because your condition will be presumed to be caused or aggravated by Agent Orange exposure.

Veteran Benefits for Agent Orange Exposure

Although the VA knew the immediate health impacts of Agent Orange exposure shortly after its deployment, it took the Department of Veterans Affairs approximately two generations to acknowledge these health complications from exposure during the 1960s and 70s.

Initially, the VA only provided benefits to Veterans who developed obvious conditions that were connected to Agent Orange exposure, like respiratory and prostate cancer. Over the years, the presumptive conditions list expanded to include connections to diseases like Parkinson’s disease and diabetes mellitus.

These days, Veterans who have service connections to time spent in Vietnam, the Korean militarized zone, or Cambodia are all authorized to enroll for VA disability benefits if they have a health condition reasonably caused by Agent Orange exposure.

Were Veterans in Okinawa Exposed To Agent Orange?

In September 2015, certain members of the Pentagon released a new 82-page report that was prepared by various branches of the US military. It included unknown data and a comprehensive analysis of Agent Orange exposure in the Okinawa area.

The report described a specific outdoor storage area approximately 48,000 ft.² and held retrograde shipments from Vietnam. These included old herbicides with various toxic defoliants: the same key ingredients that resulted in health complications for Vietnam Veterans who served in areas where Agent Orange was deployed.

As a result, the US military tested various soil and water areas in and around Okinawa from the area mentioned in the report. The US Marine Corps then determined that a very high concentration of Agent Orange dioxin was present in soil and water samples in the 1970s.

Although the Pentagon initially denied the possibility, 18 months later, the documents resurfaced. Various Veterans who served in Okinawa claimed that they developed health complications because of their proximity to defoliants (including, potentially, Agent Orange).

The Exact Cause of Agent Orange Exposure in Okinawa

According to the report and other files, Marines stationed in Okinawa in the 1980s removed steel barrows from underground sections and bunkers that contained leaking chemicals. This activity primarily took place at the Futenma Okinawa Marine Corps Air Station.

As a result of this activity, many Veterans reported symptoms of health conditions similar to those experienced by Veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

By 2003, a new Army report demonstrated that the US military stored around 25,000 barrels of Agent Orange in Okinawa city. These came from Vietnam. In addition to the discovery of a military dumpster in Okinawa City that contained the three major chemical components of Agent Orange, this resulted in a new push to give benefits to Veterans who developed severe health complications from their service in Okinawa.

Have There Been Recent Developments for Agent Orange Okinawa Veteran Compensation?

Although hundreds of claims have come forward since these developments, the government has only settled two at the time of this writing. These include a settlement to a Veteran in April 2015 who served in Okinawa between 1976 and 1977. 

The other Veteran, Lt. Col. Kris Roberts, won compensation for his Agent Orange exposure in Okinawa. According to Roberts, he served in Okinawa City in the early 1980s and developed prostate cancer because of his exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Although only two settlements have been awarded so far, these give hope to Veterans who may have developed health convocations because of Agent Orange exposure in Okinawa.

What Should You Do If You Believe You Were Exposed to Agent Orange?

Don’t give up if you believe you or a loved one were exposed to Agent Orange in Okinawa City or the Futenma Okinawa Marine Corps Air Station. The government – and the VA – are changing its policy regarding giving out disability benefits to Veterans exposed to Agent Orange in this way.

It’s a good idea to file a claim for disability benefits or compensation, even if you don’t believe you will receive benefits soon. Why? If the government ever changes its mind about Agent Orange exposure in Okinawa, you could receive back pay from your original claim date.

For example, suppose you were to file a claim for Agent Orange disability compensation due to your service in Okinawa in 2023, and the VA starts allowing compensation for these claims in 2030. Then, you could receive back pay for the seven years during which you should have been receiving benefits.

Receiving a Service Connection

Like all VA disability benefits awards, you’ll need to receive a service connection from the VA in order to start seeing monthly payments.

A service connection is essentially proof that:

  • You served in an area where Agent Orange exposure was likely or guaranteed.
  • You developed health conditions or illnesses after you served in the area where you may have been exposed to Agent Orange.
  • You did not have the health condition or illness before your Agent Orange exposure.

However, you will not receive a service connection if you can’t provide sufficient evidence or if the VA does not believe your condition was caused by/began while in the military. Therefore, it’s important to prepare before filing your claim.

It’s easier to acquire a service connection when you work with knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys. The right law firm can help by:

  • Helping you gather the right evidence to strengthen your case. Every VA disability claim requires a lot of evidence, including service records, medical records, and lay statements from your friends, family members, and fellow service people to be successful.
  • Ensuring that you file your disability claim properly and without any issues. This can accelerate your compensation timeline and make the VA less likely to deny your disability benefit because of a minor error.
  • Fight for you if the VA denies your claim, up to and including helping you through the VA disability benefits appeals process.

Contact Berry Law Today

Ultimately, you or a loved one may qualify for Okinawa Agent Orange disability compensation if you have one or more presumptive conditions as listed by the VA. You’ll also need to prove that you served in Okinawa and were exposed to Agent Orange to qualify. Berry Law’s experienced lawyers can assist.

Our law firm specializes in helping Veterans like you recover the disability benefits they need to live comfortable lives and pay their debts. Contact us today to learn more.


Agent Orange Exposure And VA Disability Compensation | Veterans Affairs

Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions | Veterans Services 

Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange Exposure – New Report | National Academies 

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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