Judge Stephen Reinhardt noted in the court’s decision that it was “difficult for us to comprehend” why VA would resist providing benefits when it agreed to do so after losing the initial case in 1989.
“We would hope,” he wrote, “that obstructionist bureaucratic opposition will now cease, and that our veterans will finally receive the benefits to which they are morally and legally entitled.”
The 1989 ruling led to legislation that forced VA to study what types of diseases other than the skin condition chloracne were caused by Agent Orange exposure.
After tests by the National Academy of Sciences, 10 other conditions were considered to have been caused by Agent Orange.
Vietnam veterans with those conditions were then eligible for VA benefits. But veterans with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) had to take VA to court to receive compensation.
The veterans prevailed in December 2005. VA appealed the decision, which led to the July 19, 2007, ruling.
The Ninth Circuit Court was flabbergasted that VA would so “vigorously” resist payment.
“These young Americans who risked their lives in their country’s service and are even today suffering greatly as a result are deserving of better treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs that they are currently receiving,”Judge Reinhardt wrote.
As with any service-connected condition, veterans can seek help from Veterans Service Officers when applying for VA benefits.
To get more information on what VA can do to help veterans suffering diseases related to Agent Orange exposure, contact the Agent Orange Helpline at 1-800-749-8387 or e-mail GW/AOHHelpline@vba.va.gov.
Also, access the Agent Orange section of its Web site at www1.va.gov/agentorange.
In addition if you are local you may call the Agent Orange Section of the VA Hospital in Alexandria at 1-318-473-0010 extension 2292.
Please don’t put this off any longer if you are in doubt call that number and make that appointment.
If you continue to have doubts about making that call, get in touch with me and I will tell you how I tested positive for CLL after being away from Vietnam for 38 years.
NOW, MAKE THE CALL!!!
Link Savoie is a U.S. Army retired officer, a Korean/Vietnam veteran, and past state commander of the La. VFW. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.