For veterans of the United States military, there are several programs to assist with care, financial and legal matters.
Qualifying veterans of the United States military can now be granted benefits based on exposure to Agent Orange.
Between 1962 and 1971, the United States military sprayed herbicides over Vietnam to reduce the jungle canopy, to clear vegetation from base camps and to destroy crops. The main chemical mixture was Agent Orange, but there were several other compounds and toxic contaminants.
On August 31, 2010 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a regulation adding Parkinson’s to the conditions presumed to have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange. This regulation grants veteran and survivor payments for qualifying veterans.
If a veteran served in Vietnam or in-land waterway from January 9, 1962 to May 7, 1975 and has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he or she is presumed to have been exposed to herbicides. The presumption expedites the application process for disability compensation, and all those awarded service-connection will become eligible to join the VA health care system.
The Institute of Medicine, a component organization of the National Academy of Sciences, has been studying the long-term health effects of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides since 1994. In 2009, the IOM presented results from its biennial review of the health effects of herbicide exposure among Vietnam veterans. Based upon epidemiological studies, the IOM supported a limited association between herbicide exposure and the development of Parkinson’s in Vietnam veterans. However, the biological mechanism by which two herbicides used in Vietnam, known respectively as 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, including the dioxin contaminant of Agent Orange called TCDD, was not conclusively demonstrated.
It was based upon these reports that the VA made changes in their regulation, granting benefits for qualifying veterans.