VA Has Proposed Adding 4 Health Conditions, Including Bladder Cancer & Parkinson’s, To Agent Orange Exposure Health Care Benefits List, BUT Administration Has Refused To Add Conditions & Even Blocked Vietnam-Era Vets From Getting The VA Coverage & Compensation They Deserve
At Local VFW, Schumer Will Call On Feds To End The Years-Long Delay & Immediately Give Vets Suffering From Agent Orange-Linked Conditions Health Care & Compensation Benefits
Schumer: LI Vietnam Vets Shouldn’t Have To Go To War With The VA Over Their Healthcare
Standing at the Albertson VFW and flanked by Long Island Vietnam War vets, some of whom are suffering from Agent Orange-linked conditions, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer publicly demanded the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Veteran’s Administration (VA) prioritize the health and well-being of LI veterans by once-and-for-all ending a years-long delay of adding new conditions to the “Agent Orange presumptive conditions” list. Schumer announced new action on the issue and then demand a detailed explanation as to why OMB and the VA continue to block health care coverage and benefits for thousands of Vietnam veterans, many local, who suffer from service-related conditions that include bladder cancer and Parkinson’s. Schumer also said a recent report he forced the administration to do was woefully insufficient and failed to properly explain why the feds are STILL denying veterans specific health benefits. Schumer will make the case for immediate action and local vets will speak about the fight.
“Our nation’s veterans, including the more than 240,000 New York vets—tens-of-thousands of which are here on Long Island—that bravely served during the Vietnam era and were exposed to Agent Orange are asking the feds to do right by them, and we are here today to try and make that happen,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “After years and years of kicking the can down the road, it is high time for the federal government to accept the substantial proof linking bladder cancer, hypertension, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism to Agent Orange exposure, and add these conditions to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list. The administration must clear a path for the VA, add these conditions to the list of Agent Orange illnesses, and finally allow veterans who are currently suffering access to the healthcare and benefits they rightly deserve; it’s not just the right thing to do, but it’s the very least we owe the brave New Yorkers who served and defended our country.”
“Agent Orange has permanently scarred thousands of veterans, leaving a truly horrendous legacy with long-lasting genetic effects that are still being felt today. I thank Senator Schumer for fighting to expand the list of presumptive health conditions that would be covered by the Department of Veteran Affairs. This disease is a painful reminder for far too many of America’s heroes who deserve to finally see their personal fog of war lifted,” said County Executive Laura Curran.
“I am proud to join Senator Schumer as he advocates for our Vietnam-era veterans to get the health care coverage and benefits that they deserve. The new VA proposal will add new conditions to the Agent Orange Exposure Health Care Benefit list and hopefully get our veterans the help they need,” said Supervisor Judi Bosworth.
Even though Schumer secured a provision in the recently-passed budget deal requiring OMB and the VA to issue a detailed report to Congress on the delay in adding these conditions to the presumptive conditions list, the report was woefully insufficient and both agencies have failed to properly explain why they are denying these Veterans.
Following this report, former VA Secretary David Shulkin announced that he would add these conditions to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list in the near future—which would allow Vietnam War-era veterans stricken by these illnesses to receive additional health care benefits, disability compensation, and care benefits to surviving spouses and dependent children and parents—but that announcement never came after OMB blocked the move. In addition to the failure to include bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism on the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list, the VA has also yet to act on a 2018 National Academies report that found sufficient evidence of association between exposure to herbicides and hypertension.
Schumer explained that per the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the VA automatically accepts that if a Vietnam Veteran physically served in Vietnam between January 1962 and May 1975, it is probable that the veteran was exposed to an herbicide agent like Agent Orange. Furthermore, the Act established a list of “presumed” diseases that the VA stipulates are caused by Agent Orange exposure. Therefore, if a veteran served in Vietnam at any time between 1962-1975 and is diagnosed with one or more of the diseases VA recognizes as service connected, the VA will compensate the veteran and his or her family. However, even though there is scientific evidence linking Parkinsonism, bladder cancer, hypertension and hypothyroidism to Agent Orange exposure, they are not currently on the VA’s list of recognized conditions.
If an Agent Orange-related condition isn’t specifically included on the presumptive conditions list, then the VA forces the suffering veterans and their families to argue their claim in a lengthy, bureaucratic appeals process that can last years and often end in a denial. In many cases the veteran will die before the process is even concluded.
Schumer said veterans shouldn’t have to wage their own war to gather the scientific facts and medical opinions about hypothyroidism in order to receive the care and benefits needed to treat the illnesses they contracted because they served our nation. Schumer said that is absolutely crucial that the roughly 240,000 Vietnam-era veterans in New York State receive the healthcare benefits they need and deserve.
A rough breakdown of New York State Vietnam War-era veterans by region can be found below.
- In Long Island and New York City, there are roughly 83,952 veterans
- In the Capital Region, there are roughly 25,384 veterans
- In Central New York, there are roughly 16,473 veterans
- In Western New York, there are roughly 32,108veterans
- In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, there are roughly 18,097 veterans
- In the Southern Tier, there are roughly 18,890 veterans
- In the Hudson Valley, there are roughly 26,536veterans
- In the North Country, there are roughly 6,671 veterans
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