Friday, March 26, 2010

Old Soldiers Still Fighting for Veteran's Disability

Old Soldiers Still Fighting for Veteran's Disability
March 26, 2010. By Gordon Gibb

Albany, NY: While the US Department of Veterans Affairs is adding new diseases and conditions to the list of those which quality for compensation, securing veterans' disability benefits can be painfully slow—and for some, impossible.

On Monday the Albany-based Times-Union revealed the maddening situation of those who came into contact with Agent Orange while serving during the Vietnam War.

Agent Orange is a toxic herbicide used by the US military to defoliate the dense forest and allow US soldiers to better see the enemy. It was later found that military personnel who ingested dioxins and the various toxic chemicals associated with the herbicide have become susceptible to illness. The VA long ago ruled that military personnel who served on Vietnamese soil and became ill from the aftereffects of Agent Orange should be compensated.

However, those who did not actually serve on Vietnamese soil—including those who served in the air or on the sea—are ineligible for compensation unless they can prove their illness is directly service-oriented. That, it turns out, is not easy. Even when doctors verify the connection, benefits can be painfully slow in coming.

The Times-Union told the story of Robert Hug, who served in the Gulf of Tonkin and South China Sea aboard the USS Hancock from 1967 to 1970. Hug, a non-smoker, eventually developed cancer of the larynx and required surgery. Doctors blamed his illness on Agent Orange. However the VA denied his claims for cancer-related benefits four times in nine years before finally allowing him benefits last fall.
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Old Soldiers Still Fighting for Veterans Disability

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