Air force reservists and active-duty forces exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War are finally getting disability benefits, the Associated Press reports. The expected cost over the next 10 years is $47.5 million, approved Thursday morning by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Exposure to Agent Orange, which was used as an herbicide during the war, formerly only allowed benefits for troops who were on the ground or served in inland waterways. The new federal rule still will not cover 200,000 "Blue Water" vets who were exposed to the chemical on board deep-water naval vessels, due to the Department of Veterans Affairs' citation of weaker scientific evidence.
In order to receive benefits, an individual must prove that they worked on a contaminated plane and later developed one of 14 conditions, including prostate cancer, diabetes, and leukemia. The VA reviewed military records to determine that pilots, mechanics, and medical personnel who served in Florida, Virginia, Arizona, Taiwan, Panama, South Korea, and the Philippines were potentially affected.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Agent Orange-related cases already make up 1 in every 6 disability checks issued by the VA.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.