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Agent Orange Exposure: Tips for Getting Your Claim Approved


You’ve likely heard of “Agent Orange exposure” over the last few years, and you or someone you know may even suffer from the conditions because of being exposed to it. But how do you start on a possible VA claim? And what other helpful information you should know about it? We’ve got some answers for you.

Agent Orange, a highly toxic herbicide used by the military to clear foliage during the Vietnam War (1961-1971), caused serious health issues to those exposed to it. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to servicemembers and their families who were harmed by Agent Orange exposure. However, many Vietnam War Veterans and their families have reported long wait times for their claims to be approved, having claims denied, or having to fight to get benefits they are entitled to. If you have had issues with your Agent Orange-related claim, below is information to help get it approved.

PACT Act of 2022 Expands VA Healthcare Benefits Starting on March 5, 2024

You should know that recent legislation, called the PACT Act, has expanded the benefits to servicemembers who were exposed to Agent Orange. Starting on March 5, 2024, the PACT Act will provide VA Health Care to eligible Veterans exposed to Agent Orange and other toxins, without first applying for VA benefits.

Determine Whether Your Condition Is a Presumptive Agent Orange Condition for Disability Benefits

Certain cancers and other medical conditions are considered “presumptive diseases,” meaning that you do not have to prove it started with your military service. The PACT Act added two conditions to the list:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)

The complete list of cancers and other illnesses is on the VA website, Agent Orange exposure page.

Ensure Your Service Took Place in the Times and Areas Covered

For your VA disability claim to be eligible for Agent Orange presumptive status, you must have served between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, in Vietnam, or aboard a U.S. military vessel operating in the Vietnamese waterways, or within 12 nautical miles of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia.

The PACT Act has expanded the coverage areas to include service in these areas and times:

  • Any U.S. or Royal Thai military base in Thailand from January 9, 1962, through June 30, 1976
  • Laos from December 1, 1965, through September 30, 1969
  • Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province from April 16, 1969, through April 30, 1969
  • Guam or American Samoa or in the territorial waters off them from January 9, 1962, through July 31, 1980
  • Johnston Atoll or on a ship that called at Johnston Atoll from January 1, 1972, through September 30, 1977

Gather All Necessary Documentation

Before you start the VA claims process, make sure you have all the necessary paperwork and documentation available.

You will need all of these:

  • A medical record that shows you have been diagnosed with an Agent Orange-related health condition
  • Military records to show your service dates and locations where you were where you were exposed to Agent Orange during your service
  • Your discharge or separation papers that show your time and location of service; these may include your DD214 or other separation documents

If you have the diagnosis, additional supporting statements should not be needed. But you may want to have some documentation on hand in case it is, including:

  • Statements about your condition from family, friends, clergy, people you served with, etc.

Common Questions and Concerns

Veterans and their families have expressed a variety of questions and concerns related to their experience with and receiving benefits from the VA. Answers to specific questions are best addressed individually because often the circumstances are unique to the Veteran.

At AAFMAA, we are committed to helping our Members achieve financial security, and being able to get the benefits to which you are entitled. As an AAFMAA Member, we can discuss these issues with you and help find or provide the answers you're looking for. Additionally, answers to many questions can be found at va.gov/.

Contact AAFMAA Member Benefits for Specialized Assistance

If you have any questions about this process, email an AAFMAA Member Benefits representative at [email protected] or call 703-707-1182.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement. Photo by Army Maj. David Pytlik. An airman escorts a Navy veteran into an Honor Flight ceremony at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., June 5, 2022. The event took 44 veterans of either World War II, Korea, or Vietnam to visit the war memorials in Washington D.C.

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