Frustrated by VA’s failure to act, in January 2021, Congress included language to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) adding these three conditions to the list of Agent Orange presumptive conditions. This means that veterans who can prove that they served in an area in which VA admits Agent Orange was sprayed, and have a diagnosis of one of the presumptive conditions, do not need to obtain a medical opinion linking their diagnosis to exposure to Agent Orange. The connection is presumed.
VA presumes the following conditions are related to Agent Orange exposure:
Chronic B-cell leukemia
Respiratory cancers (including lung cancer, and cancer of the larynx, trachea, and bronchus)
Some soft tissue sarcomas
Diabetes mellitus type 2
Ischemic heart disease
Peripheral neuropathy (must have onset within one year of exposure)
Porphyria cutanea tarda
Congress did not add hypertension to the list of presumptive conditions, despite some evidence of a connection to Agent Orange exposure. Budget concerns appear to have played a role in the omission. However, Secretary McDonough appears willing to consider adding hypertension to the list.
Veterans seeking service connection for any condition associated with Agent Orange exposure will benefit from working with an experienced advocate to ensure all claims are appropriately evaluated. If you have been denied benefits, or if you believe that your claim has been under-evaluated, contact the veterans benefits team at West & Dunn for a consultation.