Vietnam veterans–Are you aware of diabetes disability benefits?

Vietnam veterans–Are you aware of diabetes disability benefits?

By Steve Thomas

Vietnam veterans—Are you aware of diabetes disability benefits?

Agent Orange is linked to the onset of “Type 2” diabetes, and Department of Veterans Affairs has added this disease to the many associated with Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam.

This information was relayed to me by a Vietnam veteran who has developed Type 2 diabetes and just stumbled across the information. He explained how he had no knowledge of this information from public sources and was alerting other veterans to this information. He is in the process of being eligible to receive any recognized benefits. This article is an extension of that Vietnam veteran’s quest to help other veterans be aware.

The Department of Veterans Affairs published a news release back on May 8, 2001 called “Rules Published for VA’s Diabetes—Agent Orange Benefits.”

The announcement followed a report in November of 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences’ prestigious Institute of Medicine. This report found “limited/suggestive” evidence of a link between adult-onset, or Type 2, diabetes, and Agent Orange and other herbicides used in Vietnam.

The formal publication of the rules, in the Federal Register, allowed the VA to provide the benefits to those eligible veterans. Publication was in May, and under federal law, the rules become effective in 60 days from the date of publication, the VA news release indicated.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi was quoted as saying, “The hazards of the battlefield include more than bullets and shells.” Mr. Principi also stated, “As our understanding of the health risks faced by our military personnel increases, VA will adjust its programs and benefits to fit the needs of veterans.”

The VA also stated that veterans affected by the new rules will receive a priority for VA health care, and, depending upon the severity of their illnesses, disability compensation that ranges from $101 to $2,107 monthly.

The VA reports that the cost of the new benefit during the next five years is projected to be $3.3 billion, and it projects there will be about 220,000 Vietnam veterans receiving benefits.

This information also appeared in The American Legion Magazine in their November 2001 issue, which is where my Vietnam veteran friend discovered the benefit program. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) also had information available on its web site ( Both organizations have officers who can help Vietnam veterans with assistance in the claims process.

Vietnam veterans suffering from Type 2 diabetes can contact their local VA Regional Office by calling (800) 827-1000. This number’s automated system produced the following two regional offices.

The Rockford-area veterans can contact the Chicago VA Regional Office located at 536 Clark St., Chicago, IL 60680. This office is located in the Loop at the intersection of Clark and Congress streets.

The Beloit, Wis.-area veterans can contact their VA Regional Office located at 5000 W. National Ave., Building 6, Milwaukee, WI 53295.

The VA reported that the number of diseases recognized as associated with Agent Orange has steadily increased since the early 1990s. The VA lists the following conditions considered service-connected for those who served in Vietnam:

l chloracne (a skin disorder); porphyria cutanca tarda (a liver disorder; acute or subacute peripheral neuropathy (a nerve disorder); and certain cancers including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), soft tissue sarcoma, Hodgkin’s disease, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, and respiratory cancers (including cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea and bronchus).

Vietnam veterans can keep current on diseases associated with Agent Orange by going to the Veterans Affairs website, to gain further information on what benefits and programs are available to them. All veterans of military service can start here for information on programs and benefits for which they are eligible.

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