Agents Orange, White, and Blue; Dioxin; and Cancers

VA Benefits and Claims --

Answers to questions regarding VA benefits in general or a veteran's specific questions about their own claim may be obtained by dialing 1-800-827-1000. This number will put you in contact with a Veterans Benefits Counselor at the VA Regional Office having jurisdiction over your claim.

For example: a veteran calling the 800 number in Nebraska, would reach a counselor in Lincoln, Nebraska, while a veteran calling that 800 number in Florida would reach a counselor in St. Petersburg, Forida.

Agent Orange spraying --

The amounts of spraying Veterans were or were not exposed to in the War really is not relevant in relationship to filing a claim with the VA -- By law, all Vietnam Veterans are presumed to have been exposed. You are not required to prove exposure.

But, all Agent Orange compensation is disease-specific. What I mean by this is that the VA has authorized compensation for certain diseases presumed to have been caused by AO exposure. These diseases include several forms of cancer.

There are no "reparations" in the event of Agent Orange related death. If the veteran had filed a claim and was receiving disability compensation for AO related disease, there may be survivor benefits for a widow and surviving minor children.

If a claim has not been filed, receiving compensation will be difficult. You should acquire the services of a *good* Veterans Service Officer (VSO) to assist you in determining whether or not you are eligible for benefits. All major veterans organizations (American Legion, VFW, etc.) have VSOs, and many states and counties also have them. These services are always free.

You can also file a claim directly with the VA, but I do not recommend this, as the paperwork requirements can be onerous; and mis-filing papers can cause a claim to languish forever. Make sure, however, you keep track of, copies of, and understand each step and form along the involved in your claim.

Check out state benefits. While they vary from state to state, there may be some good ones available. For example, in New Jersey a 100% disabled vet pays no real estate taxes.

Good Luck,
Bill Lewis

Agent Orange and Birth Defects --

1. Contact the Association of Birth Defect Children in Orlando, Florida, for information about health problems in the children of veterans. This group has done more than any I know of regarding this issue. I don't have a phone number, but I'm sure they are listed.

2. Regarding blood testing or dioxin testing:

The VA does not test for dioxin and never has. Dioxin testing in either blood or tissue samples is extremely expensive (about $1,500.00 per test), and there are very few laboratories in the world that are capable of carrying out this procedure. One of the few in this country who can test both blood and tissue is the CDC in Atlanta.

Dioxin testing in Vietnam veterans is no longer a relevant issue. The reason for this is that dioxin leaves the body, albeit slowly. It is estimated that dioxin in the human body has a half-life of approximately seven years. This means that half the remaining dioxin in the body excretes during this period.

Vietnam veterans have now passed three and even four half-lives -- whatever measurable amounts that remain are probably no longer significant. At this point in time, dioxin measurement can even be used against a veteran -- a low current level does little or nothing to suggest levels twenty or more years ago.

Hope this helps,
Bill Lewis


How to Get Spina Bifida Benefits --

To apply for compensation benefits, contact your VA Regional Office, either in person or by calling 1-800-827-1000.

To apply for VA reimbursement of health care costs, call 1-800-733-8387.

Do not be discouraged by someone from the VA who tells you not to apply. INSIST on submitting a claim in WRITING! The sooner you apply, the sooner the monthly compensation and health care cost reimbursement can begin.

After you apply, the VA should send you a form to fill out and return. Along with this form, it may be helpful to send VA copies of the veterans's DD214, the child's birth certificate, and medical records showing the child has spina bifida.

As with any VA claim, it is best to get representation from a *good* veterans service officer, either through a veterans organization or a state or county veterans agency. As with all things, take part in this process; and ask questions if you don't understand. Make copies of EVERYTHING you mail/submit/whatever for your file and protection.

You can obtain more information about these benefits and other available help from the Spina Bifida Association of America at 1-800-621-3141.


Recording Agent Orange Symptoms --

Keep a photograghic journal of your symtoms, ie: Get some photos. It is real hard to prove how this stuff shows. Many of you may believe that you have tinea pedis (athlete's foot) or some other skin disorder. The MDs don't know what this stuff is, but we do.

Take pictures of the red patches, record in a diary your pain, swelling, numbness, loss of feeling, etc. Record info on the kids if you think they may have been affected. The idea here is we need to build a body of data that the VA must pay attention to.

Keith Miller
Veterans' Attorney


Peripheral Neuropathy --

There is a condition called peripheral neuropathy that is a disease of the nervous system which causes sensory loss, atrophy, and muscle weakness. The VA, in June 1991, stated that it will pay service-connected disability to some veterans exposed to dioxin and developing this condition. There are numerous restrictions involved in certifying this as service connected.

This information is from a pamphlet called "VVA on Agent Orange," published in 1992 by the:

Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc.
1224 M. Street NW
Washington, D.C.20005-5183

There may be a more recent edition available.

Ann Kelsey

Department of Veterans Affairs

Office of Public Affairs

News Service
Washington, DC 20420
(202) 273-5700



President Clinton Announces That Vietnam Veterans, Their Children To Benefit From VA Decisions --

Washington -- President Clinton announced today that Vietnam veterans afflicted with prostate cancer and acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy are entitled to disability payments based on their exposure to Agent Orange. Clinton said that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also will be proposing legislation that would provide an appropriate remedy for children of Vietnam veterans who suffer from spina bifida.

The decisions follow an in-depth VA review of a report issued in March by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on the health effects of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. NAS, under contract with VA, found that there is new limited or suggestive evidence to show an association with prostate cancer, acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy (a neurological disorder) in Vietnam veterans, and spina bifida (a congenital abnormality) in their children.

The VA currently recognizes seven diseases as presumptively related to exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides: chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, soft-tissue sarcoma, Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx, trachea) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Vietnam veterans who believe they have health problems that may be related to their exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam or their survivors should contact the nearest VA medical center or regional office. VA's nationwide toll-free number is 1-800-827-1000.

Prostate cancer --

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, and it's difficult to detect and difficult to treat.

Since prostate is a slow growing tumor, doctors are often faced with the unenviable choice of whether to remove the tumor or not. The reason for this is that surgical removal can be a serious and complicated procedure with risks for significant complications. That is why, in some cases, the medical choice will be to leave the tumor and treat it in place with radiation, which also can have negative side effects. With this process, estrogren is often administered to reduce the side effects.

Today, a process called "expectant management" is being used more and more often in the treatment of prostate cancer. This is a monitoring of the patient and using radiation, hormonal or surgical treatments as necessary. While each patient is different, and treatment effectiveness is uncertain, this approach can be useful in prolonging life and minimizing discomforts.

The VA has allowed compensation based on presumptive disability for an Agent Orange connection to prostate cancer. This was not without controversy, since prostate is such a common cancer among men in our age group. Studies, however, seem to indicate "some elevated risk" of prostate cancer in Vietnam vets.

Bill Lewis

Vietnam Herbicide Linked To Diabetes --
By Bryant Jordan
Times staff writer

SAN ANTONIO -- Air Force scientists say that airmen involved in the spraying of Agent Orange in Vietnam have a 50 percent higher chance of contracting diabetes than people not exposed to the herbicide.

That finding, being published in the professional publication, Epidemiology, was first discovered four or five years ago, said Joel Michalek, a co-designer and a principal investigator of the study. But scientists at the Air Force's Armstrong Laboratory at Brooks Air Force Base near San Antonio, which is responsible for the study, held off announcing the finding until they were certain the increased rate of diabetes was not connected to other factors, he said.

"We were working to make sure we were not seeing something spurious," he said. "We've concluded it's not spurious, we can't make it go away, and it's time to announce the results."

Diabetes was slated for study because it was listed among conditions and symptoms of veterans exposed to Agent Orange that had been compiled by the Veterans Administration in the 1970s. But while it was planned as part of the study, it was not what the researchers looked for first. "Like everybody else, we expected to look for cancer and birth defects [incidents]. Those are the big complaints [among exposed veterans]."

Agent Orange was a herbicide used during the war to defoliate areas. The chemical contained dioxin, a powerful toxin. The veterans in the Brooks study were enlisted members and officers who participated in the defoliation efforts, called Operation Ranch Hand.

Study ends in 2006 --

Michalek said he helped design the study in 1978. Physicals were taken on the first group of Ranch Hand veterans in 1982. Since then, the veterans have been re-examined every five years. A new round of physicals is slated to begin next month.

The last physicals will be done in 2002; and the study ends in 2006, unless Congress votes to continue funding it, he said.

The Armstrong study has followed 989 Ranch Hand veterans since the study began. At the time, about 1,200 of the veterans were eligible to participate. Michalek said 1,261 airmen and officers took part in Ranch Hand operations during the war. Of those, 22 were killed in action; and about 50 had died before the first physicals were conducted. Some veterans were not included in the study because they already had diabetes before going to Vietnam or because their dioxin level could not be measured.

The study also follows a control group -- 1,276 airmen who were not exposed to Agent Orange -- to compare them with the Ranch Hand veterans.

The test is supervised by Brooks scientists. The physical exams are conducted at the Scripps Clinic in La Jola, California, while the study is managed by Science Application International Corporation of Reston, Virginia.

As a result of the Agent Orange/diabetes connection, doctors next month will begin taking fat samples from the Ranch Hand veterans. The samples will be studied to determine if dioxin interferes with fat cells that metabolize blood sugar or glucose.

Copyright © 1997 by Army Times Publishing Company, all rights reserved

Agent White --

Interesting area is still Agent White. Agent White was Tordon 101 and contained Picloram and 2,4-D (never been a good thing even now). Picloram, however, is the real bad guy. EPA cannot give you the discussion of Contaminants which were part of the original registration of Tordon 101.

However, in 1985, in RED Facts by EPA on Picloram, in order for DOW Chemical to gain re-registration of Picloram, it had to reduce the contamination to less then 200 parts per million of HEXACHLOBENZENE and less then 1 percent NITROSAMINES. Dow has reduced HCB and now has no Nitrosamines in Picloram. No telling how high it was with the swill they were using in Vietnam.

Bottom line, HCB is the only chemical that is very close to being labeled a Class 1 Carcinogen, that is "it causes Cancer." It is stable in water and seeks out the aquifier system. If left in soil, it degrades to become PENTACHLORPHENOL which is know to be dangerous by skin contact. Compare some of the health problems listed by DVA as lacking sufficient evidence, and then look at what HCB and Pentacholorphenol cause; and a coincidence begins to appear.

Remember that EPA cannot release the listing of other chemicals found in solution to other government agencies, such as DVA. They are forbidden by law. DVA cannot use animal testing results in support of medical solutions. However, the Air Force update and the European Herbicide study support what is happening to VETS. We have a lot more to fight for.



"Agent Orange Class Action Settlement" --

The "Agent Orange Class Action Settlement," as it was commonly known, was officially titled U.S. Multiple District Litagation #381 (MDL381) and was settled out of court in the spring of 1987 in Federal Eastern District Court in Brooklyn before Judge Jack Weinstein.

The settlement was for $180 million, and the court set up part of these funds to be paid to eligible veterans. The "payment program" was handled by the Aetna Insurance Company out of Conneticut and was completed in 1994.

Obviously, there is a great deal more to this; but that's the nuts and bolts of it.

Bill Lewis

The effects of Agent Orange on the people of Vietnam --


I am doing a paper on the effects of agent orange on the people of Vietnam. I am finding alot of info on the results it had on our vets but very little on the South Vietnamese people, so I would like any help that you could provide.


Bill Lewis mentioned Dr. Arnold Schecter. Here is contact information for him, as well as some specific citations and where to look for more.

Dr. Arnold Schecter, MD, MPH; State University of New York; Health Science Center; College of Medicine, Clinical Campus; P.O. Box 1000; Binghamton, NY 13902; 607-770-8521, 607-770-8623 (fax); email Another address: 88 Aldrich Ave.; Binghamton, NY 13903.


Waldman, Peter. "Body Count: In Vietnam, the agony of birth defects calls an old war to mind." _Wall Street Journal_ Wednesday, Februrary 12, 1997, pp. A1, A8.

Stone, Richard. "Joint dioxin research imperiled." _Science_ 269 (21 July 1995) p. 298. Browne, Malcolm W. "Vietnam is said to harass American medical aid team." _New York TImes_ Thursday July 13, 1995 p. A1.

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, Bui Sy Hung, Arnold Schecter, Dan Quoc Vu. "Dioxin levels in adipose tissues of hospitalized women living in the South of Vietnam in 1984-89 with a brief review of their clinical histories." _Women & Health_ 16(1) 1990, pp. 79-93. (Includes bibliographic references)

Arnold Schecter, Le Cao Dai, Le Thi Bich Thuy, Hoang Trong Quynh, Dinh Quang Minh, Hoang Dinh Cau, Pham Hoang Phiet, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, John D. Constable, Robert Baughman, Olaf Papke, JJ Ryan, Peter Furst, Seppo Raisanen. "Agent Orange and the Vietnamese: The persistence of elevated dioxin levels in human tissues." _American Journal of Public Health_ 85(4) April 1995, pp. 516-522. (Includes references)

Dwyer, James H., Flesch-Janys, Dieter. "Editorial: Agent Orange in Vietnam." _American Journal of Public Health_ 85 (4) April 1995, pp. 476-478. (Includes references)

Herbicides in War: The long-term effects on man and nature (Conference held Nov. 15-18, 1993, Hanoi Viet Nam) Contact address: Prof. Le Cao Dai, 10-80 Committee, Khuong Thuong-Dong Da, Hanoi, Viet Nam. Tel: 011-844-8522479 Fax: 011-844-8523514.

The correct URL for the article online is: _Dioxin.html This is a case sensitive address, so be sure to use capitals when indicated. The citation for the article is Currey, Cecil B. "Residual dioxin in Vietnam." _Vietnam Generation_ 4(3-4) Nov. 1992, pp. 18-20.

To search for more citations on Medline, the National Library of Medicine's database, point your browser to Click on Medline Free, then click on PubMed. In the search box, enter the following terms: agent orange and vietnamese

Ann Kelsey
March 1998

Also, access the "Children and Families of Vietnam Veterans" heading in this Index.

Revised 01-14-99 by DGS