Agent Orange Exposure and Lymphoma | VA Disability

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VA Disability Compensation: Veterans of the Vietnam Era and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

UPDATE: As of January 2020, Blue Water claims are being processed.

Agent Orange is an herbicide that was widely used as a chemical warfare agent during the Vietnam War. This compound contains dioxins (TCDD), which are chemicals harmful to human health. There is sufficient evidence to show that Agent Orange caused a number of serious health effects in Vietnam veterans. For this reason, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has determined that U.S. military veterans who served between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975 in the Republic of Vietnam, and other associated locations and air force bases in Cambodia and Thailand, are automatically eligible for VA benefits based on these presumptive conditions. This started with the Agent Orange Act of 1991 and evolved over time. You can read about the full eligibility requirements on VA.gov.

Since medical evidence shows that Agent Orange increases cancer risk, many Vietnam veterans are eligible for compensation for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Blue Water vs. Brown Water Veterans

Lately, we’ve spent a lot of time discussing where the line between blue and brown water in Vietnam is…and where it should be.  The reason for this is that the VA acknowledges that brown water Vietnam veterans were exposed to herbicides along with the “boots on the ground” veterans.  That presumption of exposure ensures that if those veterans ever develop one of the diseases VA has found are related to herbicide exposure (Agent Orange, those veterans will automatically be entitled to service connection for those diseases. The diseases associated with herbicide exposure include ischemic heart disease, Chloracne, multiple myeloma, peripheral neuropathy,  soft tissue sarcoma, respiratory cancers (including lung cancer),  AL Amyloidosis, diabetes mellitus, Parkinson’s disease, Hodgkin’s disease, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and a number of other cancers.  Blue water veterans were recently ruled to be entitled to these presumptions.


The Agent Orange-Lymphoma Connection

Blue water veterans should be aware that they do not need the presumption of herbicide exposure to claim service connection for one of the herbicide-related diseases.  Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has its own regulation, separate from the regulation which provides the list of herbicide-associated diseases.  In that regulation (38 C.F.R. § 3.313), veterans who served in Vietnam during the Vietnam era will be service-connected if they develop Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at any time after that service.  For purposes of the regulation, service in Vietnam includes, not only “boots on the ground” service and brown water service, but also service in the offshore waters of Vietnam. Therefore, blue water veterans are also entitled to service connection for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

One thing veterans should be aware of is that the term Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a catch-all for around 80 different types of cancer.  Any of those cancers should be service connected for Vietnam era veterans who served in Vietnam or in the offshore waters.  These include:

  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
  • Small Lymphocytic Leukemia (SLL)
  • B-cell Lymphomas
  • Follicular Lymphoma
  • Mantle Cell Lymphoma
  • Marginal zone B-cell Lymphoma
  • Burkitt Lymphoma
  • Lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma
  • Hairy cell Leukemia
  • T-cell Lymphomas
  • Peripheral T-cell lymphomas
  • Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL)

agent orange lymphoma

Just because these cancers are identified as Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by the American Medical Association, however, does not necessarily mean that every rater at the VA will automatically recognize that they are the same.  In your request for service connection, then, it is important that you point this out to the VA.  Make your claim with specificity.  Cite to the regulation which provides that all veterans with service in Vietnam are entitled to service connection for these diseases, including blue water veterans.  Point out to the VA that your type of cancer is, in fact, a type Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  You can do this with your own internet research or by having your oncologist write a letter for you stating that your cancer is a type of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  You cannot simply rely on the VA to know the medical terminology.  You must be an advocate for yourself.

With the recent ruling, we encourage blue water veterans to file their claims for the herbicide-related diseases and keep them alive by appealing them.

Have Questions About Your Agent Orange Lymphoma Claim?

If you are a Vietnam veteran and you have questions about your eligibility for VA disability compensation, or if the VA denied your claim, the team at Hill & Ponton today can help. Our law firm has broad knowledge about the contaminants and toxins that veterans may have been exposed to, as well as the associated presumptive conditions. We are committed to helping former military service members and their families obtain the benefits they deserve, so contact us today for a free case evaluation.

UPDATE: As of January 2020, Blue Water claims are being processed.

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  • Thank you to the firm of Hill & Ponton!! Brian Hill and his staff were able to get my 100% disability with the VA for my exposure to herbicides in Thailand. I have been fighting for this for many years and kept getting denied, after consulting with Hill & Ponton I decided to let them help me and it was the best decision I could have made. I found their professionalism to be outstanding.

    – Chip P.

    North Carolina

  • They got my disability rating after I was denied twice. They knew exactly how to format and submit the claim. I was rated 50%, Hill & Ponton weren’t done, they found other medical that related to exposure and submitted additional claims. I could not have received a disability rating without Hill & Ponton. If you need help, choose Hill & Ponton.

    – Thomas D.


  • The service provided by Hill and Ponton was exemplary. The lawyers and staff took care of every aspect with respect and understanding of the clients needs. In my case, as a new widow, they patiently walked me through each step. They kept me informed of the progress. I cannot say enough about the service they provided. Thank you Brian and staff.

    – Judith K Zitzewitz


  • As a Vet you may have filed a disability claim, and if you want to win your claim you need to call Hill and Ponton. I didn’t know what to do about my condition or status until I made the call. At H&P they not only took my case, but made me feel like family. They changed my life and they will change your life too. It’s true! In my opinion you can’t do better and you won’t regret it!

    – Paul K



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