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Letter to President Trump From Veterans Groups Seeks Addition of 4 Presumptive Diseases to Agent Orange List

Letter to President Trump From Veterans Groups Seeks Addition of 4 Presumptive Diseases to Agent Orange List
Aircraft spray Agent Orange southeast of Saigon in 1968. (Photo by Dick Swanson/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images)

Seven veterans service organizations (VSOs) have united to call on President Donald Trump to use his executive powers and add four scientifically connected presumptive diseases to the list of veterans’ diseases associated with Agent Orange.

 

In a joint letter dated Feb. 10, the VSOs urge the president "to take action and to end the wait, needless suffering and disappointment for an entire generation of veterans.”

 

[READ THE LETTER HERE]

 

MOAA co-signed the letter with the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, Fleet Reserve Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and AMVETS following the VA notification that the department would await the results of two studies that are scheduled to be released in late 2020 before making any changes to the list of presumptive conditions.

 

In the letter, the VSOs state “the continued delayed action by VA is causing additional suffering for Vietnam veterans and their families.”

 

The four presumptives -- bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkinson-like symptoms, and hypertension -- affect at least an estimated 83,000 veterans.

 

The VSO letter details the evidence review in the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s reports stating that bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s-like symptoms, and hypertension fall among the health problems linked to Agent Orange exposure.

 

Congress is taking note of the impact on their constituents and a bipartisan bill was introduced in the House to address this issue. Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.) and Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) introduced H.R. 5610 to add the four presumptives.

 

[TAKE ACTION: Ask Congress to Ensure the VA Covers These Conditions]

 

In a press release for the bill, Rep. Harder stated, “These guys have waited for over 40 years for the benefits they earned and should have been getting decades ago.”

 

Stauber, the original co-sponsor on the bill, stated, “It is only fair that we care for these servicemembers when they return home. Vietnam veterans have long been suffering from health problems as a result of Agent Orange exposure.”

 

While the VSOs are hopeful the president will act on their letter, more congressional action may be required to get the VA to take care of veterans. Please reach out to your representative and ask them to support H.R. 5610, which will mandate the VA cover these four illnesses connected to Agent Orange exposure.

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About the Author

Cory Titus
Cory Titus

Titus separated from the Army in 2017 as a captain and is MOAA's associate director, currently serving and retired affairs. He is currently studying social entrepreneurship at George Mason University with a focus on improving military financial education.