In recent veterans news, the U.S. government agreed to provide millions of dollars of benefits to Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. "Opening up eligibility for this deserving group of Air Force veterans and reservists is the right thing to do," VA Secretary Bob McDonald said in a statement.
According to military news reports, as many as 2,100 Air Force reservists and active-duty forces exposed to Agent Orange residue on airplanes used in the Vietnam War will be eligible for these benefits. This will add to an existing Agent Orange-related caseload which already makes up 1 out of 6 disability checks issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The White House Office of Management and Budget approved this new federal rule which took effect Friday. The government says the cost of extending these benefits to Vietnam War veterans is estimated to run around $47.5 million, with separate health care coverage adding to the price tag.
So, which Vietnam War veterans will be receiving these benefits from the Veterans Administration? According to Veterans news sources, those who will benefit from the new federal rule are military personnel who flew or worked on Fairchild C-123 aircraft in the U.S. from 1969 to 1986 and were believed to have been exposed to Agent Orange residue.
That group of veterans could include pilots, mechanics and medical personnel serving both abroad and in the United States. It also includes active duty and C-123 reservists. To see exactly which Vietnam veterans are included and eligible for these benefits, make sure to visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Affected veterans may begin to submit applications for benefits immediately. Pending C-123 claims to the VA do not need to be resubmitted.
"Vietnam Veterans of America applauds VA Secretary Bob McDonald for doing the right thing for C-123 crew members who were exposed to Agent Orange," said John Rowan, VVA National President. The VA's regulation governing individuals presumed to have been exposed to certain herbicides has been broadened, extending eligibility to Air Force Reserve personnel exposed to Agent Orange through contact with contaminated C-123 aircraft. These aircraft had been used in Vietnam as part of Operation Ranch Hand. Secretary McDonald has stayed within his statutory authority, yet provided justice for these Americans who have suffered toxic wounds.
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