The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to expand eligibility for Agent Orange disability benefits to Vietnam-era veterans who served at 129 locations in the U.S. during specific time frames, as well as parts of Canada and India, officials announced Friday.
Ahead of a notice published Monday in the Federal Register, VA officials also said they plan to widen eligibility for veterans who were sickened by herbicides used after World War II in the Demilitarized Zone in Korea in the 1950s and in areas off the shores of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
VA Secretary Denis McDonough said the move will make it easier for veterans who were exposed to the toxic defoliant to get benefits and care for service-connected conditions.
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“Our goal is to provide every veteran — of every era — with the VA health care and benefits they deserve, and this is another step in the right direction,” McDonough said in a statement released Friday.
The proposal would allow the VA to automatically extend presumptive status to veterans who develop an Agent Orange-related health condition from assignment to a location named on the Defense Department's list of areas where tactical herbicides were tested, used or stored within specific dates.
It adds locations in 12 states within the U.S., as well as Kumbla, India, in 1945 and 1946, and Gagetown, New Brunswick, in Canada, in June 1966…