Alex Constantine - August 15, 2013
In a heroic attempt to right an administrative wrong, two Navy veterans' organizations are suing the Department of Veterans Affairs and Secretary Eric Shinseki over the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Specifically, the suit alleges that the medical benefits that the VA offers does not cover treatments for conditions stemming from exposure to the lethal weapon.
The two organizations – Blue Water Navy Vietnam Association and Military Veterans Advocacy – filed the suit in Washington, DC in Federal Court on behalf of one hundred thousand "Navy veterans who were stationed on a ship during the Vietnam War. These “Blue Water” Navy Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange during the conflict through the distilled water provided on board.
According to the suit, the VA, under the direction of Secretary Shineski, “ignored scientific evidence which showed the presence of Agent Orange in the waters off shore” and the on board distillation process “enriched the effect of the dioxin.”
Though the VA does offer benefits to veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, the benefits are for those who served on the mainland not sailors. The inclusion of off shore veterans – specifically the Blue Water Navy Veterans – was looked at by the Department but ruled out simply because there was not sufficient evidence of Agent Orange Exposure.
The new lawsuit begs to differ.
Exposure to Agent Orange can cause a litany of serious, oftentimes lethal, medical conditions including mesothelioma, lung cancer, leukemias, multiple myeloma, Parkinson's disease and can cause birth defects in children born to those exposed to the deadly weapon. Further, exposure to Agent Orange may increase the chance of developing certain types of cancer including mesothelioma.
Agent Orange is considered a “tactical herbicide” used primarily during the Vietnam War to thin out the jungle. During the Vietnam War, many different types and variations of “tactical herbicides” were used but Agent Orange was the most commonly deployed.