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Were you exposed to Agent Orange? Learn more about a new law at this town hall


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A new federal law has expanded eligibility for veterans exposed to Agent Orange during conflicts in the Vietnam era, including military serving along the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea in the late 1960s.

Language in a 2018 bill extending eligibility for the first time to thousands of Korean DMZ vets eventually was merged into a larger bill that Congress passed: the Blue Water Vietnam Navy Act, which restores eligibility for disabilities to sailors offshore of Vietnam on ships and to aircraft crews during the Vietnam era who also were exposed to Agent Orange. 

The law also establishes the presumption of exposure, eliminating the need for a veteran to provide proof of exposure and avoid the lengthy VA appeal process if a claim is rejected.

Rep. Thomas MacArthur, R-N.J., chats with Army veteran Garfield Harper Jr. of Westampton in Pemberton Tuesday. The congressman is sponsoring legislation to help veterans like Garfield who developed health issues after exposure to the chemical Agent Orange in or near the Demilitarized Zone in Korea in 1967-68.  

The bill sets an earlier date for exposure on the Korean DMZ to Sept. 1, 1967, when various defoliants were tested — seven months earlier than the former start date of April 1, 1968. The Korean DMZ exposure time period now ends in August 1971. The Vietnam exposure dates are Jan. 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975.

Benefits also will expand to children born with spina bifida due to a military parent’s exposure in Thailand and to certain conditions that already exist for children of Vietnam and Korean DMZ veterans.

Agent Orange conditions for service members include lung and prostate cancer, chronic skin disorders, Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, B-cell leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and early onset peripheral neuropathy.



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