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Greg Remus

VETS VIEWS: Veterans exposed to Agent Orange may be entitled to benefits

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Agent Orange is a defoliant herbicide mixture used during the Vietnam War to destroy forests in Vietnam. 

About 3 million Americans served in the armed forces in Vietnam during the Vietnam War and were exposed to Agent Orange. Agent Orange was shipped in drums marked with orange stripes; hence the name Agent Orange.

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Exposure to Agent Orange varied. The mission, known as Operation Ranch Hand, involved spraying 20 million gallons of Agent Orange over roughly 3.6 million acres of Vietnamese land to remove forest cover, destroy crops and clear vegetation from U.S. bases.

As a result, members of the armed forces were exposed to it. Operation Ranch Hand lasted from 1962 to 1971. The large scale spraying was done using airplanes and helicopters, but herbicides were also sprayed from boats, ground vehicles and by soldiers.

Research is still being conducted to determine the lasting health consequences of exposure and has been linked to several cancers and diseases.

The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes there is an association between exposure to Agent Orange and the following cancers and diseases: B cell leukemia, Parkinson's disease, ischemic heart disease, AL amyloidosis, chloracne, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, diabetes mellitus type II, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, porphoria cutanea tarda, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers and soft tissue sarcoma.

This means if you are an honorably discharged veteran who served in Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 or in Korea serving on the DMZ between April 1968 and July 1969, the VA presumes you were exposed to Agent Orange.

Please note it was also used for a brief period of time in Korea. If you now have one of these diseases or a residual condition secondary to one of these diseases, you may be entitled to compensation and medical treatment.

If you are a widow(er) of a veteran who served in Vietnam or Korea during this period and the veteran passed away from one of these illnesses or the illness contributed to the cause of death you may be entitled to a significant monthly stipend and medical insurance similar to Medicare.

If you are that veteran or widow you should contact your local Veteran Service Officer as soon as possible and apply for the benefit.

As always the purpose of the Hubbard County Veteran Service Office is to provide assistance and support to eligible veterans, their dependents and survivors in obtaining benefits through the state and federal Departments of Veterans Affairs, and to provide benefit counseling, claims service, referral and assistance in a variety of other programs. You can contact me at the Hubbard County Veteran Service Office at 201 Fair Ave, Park Rapids, 732-3561.

Have a great day! Please note, I will be in Laporte at the Lakeport Town Hall from 9 a.m. to noon and at the ARCC in Akeley from 1 to 3 p.m. every third Thursday of each month.

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