|Matthew Hill:||Hello and welcome to the Hill and Ponton video blog. I’m Mathew Hill.|
|Carol Ponton:||I’m Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||Today we’re going to talk to you about Agent Orange and peripheral neuropathy. This is actually a pretty tricky one. Well, first of all, let’s back up. With Agent Orange, the VA has admitted that there are 14, 15 diseases that are related to Agent Orange. If you can show that you were exposed, the easiest way is if you were serving in Vietnam, they assume you were exposed. The will presume that any of these 14, 15 disabilities are service connected, and you don’t have to show that link in between. Big ones we always see, diabetes …|
|Carol Ponton:||Diabetes, prostate cancer, ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s, a number of cancers.|
|Matthew Hill:||If you have one of these then there’s no fight from the VA on the service connection. The rating is a whole other story. If you have something that’s off the list, or there’s a temporal part of it, then that gets difficult. If it’s not in the perimeters of the list, the VA is going to deny you flat-out and just not give you time of day frankly on it.|
|Matthew Hill:||We talked about it being presumptively service connected. Even is something is presumptively service connected, the VA has to do the analysis of a direct service connection. Meaning, did something happened in service? Is there a current disability? Is there a link between the 2? In this case, you’d have something happened in service as far as Agent Orange exposure, current disability. We talked about kidney cancer before, and then is there a medical link? VA will never do that. They’ll just say, “Nope, not on the list.”|
|Matthew Hill:||We’re going to talk about 1 in particular today.|
|Carol Ponton:||It’s peripheral neuropathy which is actually on the list, but it says you have to develop it within 2 years, and then they assume it will … Of service, of exposure, and then they assume it will go away. We’re finding that there are many thousands of veterans who have developed this peripheral neuropathy much later in life. It could be 30 or 40 years. What they have is they have numbness, no feeling in their hands, their feet, their legs. It’s a terribly crippling disease, and the VA is denying all these. At the same time, they’re given free treatment at the VA because the medical realizes there’s a link between them. You can win these cases. We’ve won a lot of these cases.|
|Matthew Hill:||We should say there are a whole host of veterans who have Agent Orange exposure and are service connected peripheral neuropathy because of diabetes.|
|Carol Ponton:||Right, but this is different.|
|Matthew Hill:||Right. You’ll see that. People have diabetes and then they develop this, but this is a case where there is no diabetes at all.|
|Carol Ponton:||No diabetes. I can think of a person who, his blood sugar was fine, but he had peripheral neuropathy. He was a Seal in Vietnam. He was back in the jungle where they had a tremendous amount of this Agent Orange. I guess he was in his 60s where he had no feeling in his hands, his feet. He had foot drop. He couldn’t pick up his foot. He couldn’t zip up his pants. He couldn’t do anything. He actually went to private doctors and they did pretty much the same thing that the VA is doing. They have them come in every 3, 4, 5, 6 weeks. They actually have an infusion that takes all day long. They have to put in this medication that goes in, and they they’re almost back to normal.|
|They still have some problems, but they usually walk and use their hands. This is the peripheral neuropathy I’m talking about. I have veterans that say when they go into the VA, the VA in Gainesville in Florida, they’ll be a huge circle where they’re all sitting around having infusion together. They’re all for peripheral neuropathy, all Vietnam veterans. The VA has been turning these cases down, but you can win them. You’re probably not going to win them at the regional office, but the BVA, the Board of Veterans Appeal, which is where you go after your first 2 times at the regional office, they are approving these cases.|
|You’re going to need a medical opinion. You’re going to need a doctor who’s qualified. We have one that I’m thinking of in particular that she actually worked with the military for a while. She investigated toxins and their affect on the soldiers. To do an opinion that the exposure to Agent Orange is what has caused his peripheral neuropathy. Most of these diseases are totally disabling. This is something that I urge you to pursue. You can definitely win this.|
|Matthew Hill:||That’s all we have today, but thank you so much for joining us, and we hope to see you again on this space soon.|
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