On May 27, 2021, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, announced two important decisions which have the potential to affect millions of Veterans who have been exposed to herbicides and who served in Southwest Asia, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War and after September 11, 2001.
As we’ve discussed previously in this blog page, the William M. Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law 116-283), added three conditions to the list of those presumptively associated with exposure to herbicide agents, including the herbicide known as Agent Orange. Those conditions are bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism. The Secretary announced that the VA will finally begin processing those claims. Some of the best news, according to the press release from the VA, is that the VA “will apply the provisions of court orders related to Nehmer vs. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which may result in an earlier date for entitlement to benefits for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Vietnam War era Veterans and their survivors, who previously filed and were denied benefits for one of these three new presumptive conditions, will have their cases automatically reviewed without the need to refile a claim. VA will send letters to impacted Veterans and survivors.”
Another important decision from the VA is based on the evaluation of a National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine report, as well as other evidence, regarding chronic respiratory conditions from particulate matter. The VA is initiating rulemaking to consider adding respiratory conditions, which may include asthma, sinusitis and rhinitis, to the list of disabilities from military service in Southwest Asia, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War and after September 11, 2001. A downside is that the announcement does not specify service in Iraq. However, Secretary McDonough stated that “[t]his is just the beginning of our effort to help vets suffering from toxic exposure, not the end of that effort. This is an urgent, ongoing process and we will stop at nothing to make sure our vets have the care and benefits they’ve earned, and which they deserve.”
At Gardberg and Kemmerly, we are keeping a close eye these issues in order to help our Veterans. If you have a claim for pending before the VA, the qualified Veterans’ Disability attorneys at Gardberg and Kemmerly want to help in any way possible. Please call our office and speak with one of our qualified Veterans’ Disability attorneys. Gardberg and Kemmerly is committed to helping injured and disabled Veterans obtain the benefits they deserve. If you need help with a disability claim, call the office at 251-343-1111 or 800-332-1529 for a free consultation. Gardberg and Kemmerly is proud to serve Veterans across the country from our home office in Mobile, Alabama. We would love an opportunity to discuss your claim.