New Illnesses Added to Veterans’ Benefits for the First Time in Years

Written by Christopher W. Dumm, The Law Office of Christopher W. Dumm

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (H.R. 6395) went into effect on January 1, 2021, and with it, parkinsonism, bladder cancer, and hypothyroidism were added to the list of medical issues for which veterans may now receive benefits. Such additions are rare — more than ten years have passed since the last time illnesses were added to the list — so this is a noteworthy win worth celebrating. 

The new legislation is aimed at Vietnam veterans who came in contact with tactical herbicides during their service but also may apply to certain units serving in the Korean War. In both conflicts, Agent Orange, a powerful defoliant was used to strip foliage providing cover to enemy troops. However effective, the chemical has also been linked to severe side effects in those who were exposed to it.

The Agent Orange Act of 1991 paved the way for the National Academy of Sciences to conduct studies and gather evidence concerning the effects of military exposure to defoliants and herbicides. Early research connected a number of illnesses to contact with Agent Orange and the list has only grown in the decades following the substance’s wartime use. The three illnesses recognized by H.R. 6395 are the newest to gain formal recognition, but they surely will not be the last.

To learn more about H.R. 6395 and how it could potentially affect you or your loved ones, click here.

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