Many veterans have been exposed to a number of chemicals from Agent Orange, Industrial Solvents, Pesticides, Jet Fuel, and more. The question arises is not only how exposure to these agents impacts the health of the veterans their selves, but their children as well. For the veteran, it has been proven that many of the chemicals they have been exposed to have caused a number of ailments – one of the most common is cancers that eventually can contribute to other life-threatening diseases.
Let’s first look at some of the chemicals that veterans may have been exposed to. Please note that the following is simply a synopsis, and not a full-blown discourse. Several of these have been discussed at length in the past, and it is very likely that others will be more closely examined in the future.
- Agent Orange – this herbicide was used extensively during the Viet Nam War era to destroy foliage and crops.
- Burn Pits – open air pit waste (body excrements needing to be disposed of on a regular basis) at military camps.
- Sulfur Fire – for nearly a month, the Sulfur Fire (in Iraq) resulted in large amounts of sulfide dioxide permeating the air.
- Camp Lejeune – water supplied to the Marine Corps Base Camp was contaminated by industrial chemicals for more than 30 years.
- Industrial Solvents – primarily used to dissolve or degrease such items as grease, paint, etc.
- Pesticides – used to repel or destroy insects and other pathogens
- Depleted Uranium – this was used in military tank armor, as well as some bullets
- Chromium – found in 2003 in water treatment plants
- PCBs – used as a coolant and insulating fluid
According to the VA and federal law, certain diseases are presumed to be a result of exposure to certain herbicides and/or chemicals. Probably the most common of these herbicides is Agent Orange. Although it took many years to be considered a presumptive condition for veterans returning from both the Korean and Viet Nam wars, it is important to be aware that it has also been recognized to cause birth defects and diseases to their (the veterans) children – just like adults exposed to the nuclear fall-out found in areas like Chernobyl, the West Virginia chemical disaster; and the list goes on.
Everyone knows Agent Orange is bad, and exposed veterans know that it causes certain cancers and other diseases after exposure. The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes this, and for all of these cancers and diseases, disability compensation is practically automatic. These are called “presumptive” conditions that are considered to be caused by the military purely because of the time and date in service. Veterans’ children have long been recognized to have birth defects and diseases resulting from their parents’ exposure to Agent Orange. Sadly; however, the VA recognizes most of these conditions in the children of women veterans, with the list of accepted conditions for male veterans’ children being significantly shorter (spina bifida the most talked about).
Today, it is becoming more important for veterans to become more educated and learn that exposure to such toxins like Agent Orange has also been proven to cause numerous and serious birth defects in exposed male veterans’ children, in addition to spina bifida. The list, documented by the Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance, includes Crohn’s disease, Lupus, thyroid disease, chronic kidney disease, missing limb parts, and webbed toes, and many more.
The bottom line, if you are a child of an exposed veteran, it would behoove you to file a claim with the VA so that your voice can be heard! For more details on how to file a claim go to covvha.net.