“Sen. Sherrod Brown will co-sponsor a bill that would more readily extend Veterans Affairs benefits to Vietnam War-era veterans who served in Thailand and suffered exposure to herbicides.”
Senate Bill 1381 would change the presumption of a service connection for veterans who were exposed to herbicide agents, while serving in the U.S. armed forces in Thailand during the Vietnam War, says The Dayton Daily News’s recent article, “Ohio senator to co-sponsor VA bill for Thailand benefits.”
This recent development comes after CBS-affiliated television station WHIO in Dayton and the Dayton Daily News published a story outlining the challenges that many Thailand veterans face in securing VA benefits.
American soldiers, Marines, and airmen who served in Vietnam have been given a nearly automatic VA presumption that they were exposed to these herbicides, usually called “Agent Orange.” That presumption makes it easier for them to claim vital benefits.
Agent Orange was a very strong herbicide used by the U.S. during the Vietnam War to eliminate forest cover and crops for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops. The program was codenamed Operation Ranch Hand and sprayed more than 20 million gallons of herbicides over Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos from 1961 to 1971. Agent Orange contained the deadly chemical dioxin. It was the most commonly used herbicide and was later shown to cause serious health issues. These problems included cancer, birth defects, rashes and severe psychological and neurological problems for the Vietnamese people and returning U.S. servicemen.
However, those in the armed forces who served in Thailand are not offered this presumption.
Thailand veterans have to make their case to the VA, by proving exposure. This argument can sometimes be difficult to make.
The bill was introduced in May by Senator John Boozman, R-Ark. It has been read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.
“All veterans exposed to Agent Orange, or other toxic chemicals during their military service, should have access to care and benefits,” Brown, D-Ohio, said in a statement late Monday. “These veterans are being denied benefits, because of where they served. It’s time to make this right.”
Vietnam Veterans generally are eligible for a wide-variety of benefits available to all U.S. military veterans. These VA benefits include disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment and burial.
Reference: Dayton Daily News (December 3, 2019) “Ohio senator to co-sponsor VA bill for Thailand benefits”