When it comes to disabled veterans from the Vietnam War, few topics cause as much controversy as Agent Orange. The substance is blamed on a variety of medical conditions that Vietnam veterans suffer to this day, with some disabled veterans still struggling for recognition for their medical conditions. But what exactly is Agent Orange, and how did it become such a source of contention?
Explaining Agent Orange
Agent Orange is the code name for one of several “Rainbow Agents,” chemical defoliants intended to help soldiers clear out dense foliage that impeded United States troop movements and provided cover for Viet Cong fighters. Later on, it also came to be used to destroy crops as a way of damaging enemy supply lines, leading to widespread exposure among soldiers on both sides of the war, as well as Vietnamese citizens. It was by far the most commonly used of the Rainbow Agents, and thus the one more people were exposed to than any other.
The Effects of Agent Orange Exposure
Unfortunately, Agent Orange would turn out to be dangerous to far more than just plants. Pregnant women who were exposed to the chemical would often suffer severe birth defects, some of which can result in lifelong medical problems for the child. In addition, people exposed to Agent Orange had a substantially higher tendency to develop a variety of different cancers, as well as diabetes, heart disease, immune system problems, and hormonal problems, among other conditions.
The Impact on Veterans
Initially, the effects of Agent Orange and other Rainbow Agents were not well understood or widely known. This led to controversy as claims over the effects of Agent Orange were publicly disputed. However, as time went on, research began to show how many veterans were returning home from Vietnam with otherwise rare and dangerous medical conditions. In time, it became clear just how much these substances negatively affected anyone exposed to them, and how many veterans had long-term disabilities as a result of Agent Orange exposure.
What You Should Do if You Were Exposed
If you or someone you love served in the Vietnam War, and they have a severe disability similar to those described above, you may be entitled to disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is true even if you or your loved one did not serve within the country of Vietnam during their tour. However, the only way to know if you may be entitled to disability benefits is to contact a lawyer with knowledge of veterans’ disability law. They can help evaluate the strength of your claim, and help you through the application process to get the benefits you deserve.
The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.