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Military update: Vietnam vets should file claims ASAP
SIERRA VISTA Herald/Review ^ | Tom Philpott

Posted on 03/06/2010 10:05:46 AM PST by SandRat

Tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans with ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease or B cell leukemia should file claims now with the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability compensation, and not wait until VA publishes a regulation officially linking these diseases to wartime service.

Advocacy groups are urging the swift filing of claims because veterans eventually found eligible for disability pay for these diseases will be able to receive compensation back to the date their claims were filed.

Those who wait for a regulation to add these ailments to VA’s list of diseases presumed caused by exposure to Agent Orange and other toxins used in the war could lessen, by several months of compensation, any retroactive pay that they will be due once their claims have been approved.

“File your claim now so you can get what you’ve earned,” urged Peter S. Gaytan, executive director of The American Legion.

VA officials, in a statement, agreed.

“The only way an eligible Vietnam veteran can lose out is if he or she delays filing or does not file a claim, as the effective date of benefits hinges on the date of actually filing of the claim,” the VA explained.

Help in filing claims is available through the Legion and its service officers as well through most other major veterans’ organization.

A law firm representing the Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) sent a March 1 letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki demanding that VA publish by March 12 an interim regulation for adding these illnesses to its list of diseases presumed caused by Agent Orange — or face a lawsuit.

Longer delays in rulemaking, the letter said, will “result in irreparable harm to thousands of Vietnam veterans who suffer from these diseases” because VA compensation is not owed to “new claimants for any period prior to publication of a final regulation.”

What the letter didn’t make clear is that veterans can avoid the “irreparable harm” if they don’t wait for the regulation to file their claim.

By March 3, the Legion had heard from Shinseki and disassociated itself from the letter sent by the law firm of Chadbourne and Parke.

“We got reassurance from the secretary that they’re moving as quickly as they can to clarify the regulations, and they understand the urgency behind making that happen,” Gaytan said. “We’re satisfied with the secretary’s direct commitment to get that done.”

What had irked veterans groups was a missed deadline. The Agent Orange Act of 1991 requires VA to publish final regulations to expand its list of presumptive diseases within 210 days of receiving a report from the Institute of Medicine linking more illnesses to use of the herbicide during the war in Southeast Asia. That 210-day deadline was reached Feb. 19 without VA having published even an interim regulation.

A VA official said the Office of Management and Budget is expected to complete its review of VA’s interim regulation by the end of March. It then will be published in the Federal Register for public comment.

Shinseki had delighted veterans’ groups last October by announcing that VA would not challenge a July 24 report by the IOM that found sufficient epidemiologic evidence to suggest a link between wartime herbicide exposure and Parkinson’s disease, B cell leukemia and ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease.

Veterans who set foot in Vietnam from 1962 to 1975 and suffer today from one of these diseases will be in line for a disability rating and compensation once the regulation is final and claim adjudicators begin using it. By one estimate, as many as 185,000 veterans could be eligible for disability pay for these diseases.

A VA official defended the pace of rulemaking since Shinseki’s decision.

“Typically it takes any agency about two years to get through something like this — dealing with the Federal Register, open comment, et cetera,” said the official who asked not to be identified. “As a result of this being so important, we have definitely made sure to expedite. … This is one of the secretary’s top concerns.”

Bart Stichman, co-executive director of NVLSP, agreed that Vietnam veterans should file claims immediately to fully protect potential benefits.

“If they previously filed, they’re okay,” said Stichman. “But a lot of people haven’t heard about this.” Those who wait for “a big announcement when the regulation comes out” will only be eligible for retroactive compensation back to the date the regulation becomes final, which still could be months away.

The American Legion is sending out fresh guidance to its service officers to urge veterans who believe they have a claim under any one of the three illnesses to come in for free help in developing their claims.

“We have experts in this field,” Gaytan said, “paid employees … to help get the claim filed as soon as possible. That’s our job as a veterans’ advocacy organization. We can’t expect the veteran to understand all the complicated regulations that help the VA administer delivery of benefits.”

Many tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans, particularly with heart disease, are expected to file claims to get tax-free compensation for life and access to VA medical care. Exceptions to eligibility could include lack of any proof a veteran ever visited Vietnam or the surfacing of credible evidence showing the ailment was unrelated to service.

Claimants with a presumptive Agent Orange disease don’t have to prove a direct association between their condition and their time in service.

“We understand the importance of moving this through,” said the VA official about the regulation. She noted that snow storms in Washington, D.C., in February shut down federal offices for several days, adding to the delay.

TO COMMENT, write Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville VA 20120-1111, or by e-mail Look for his column every Saturday in the Herald/Review.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS: bcellleukemia; claimshealth; heartdisease; ischemic; parkinsons; veterans; vietnam
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1 posted on 03/06/2010 10:05:47 AM PST by SandRat
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To: SandRat

Absolutely. My father filed, but quite late, and only got benefits for couple of months before he passed away.

2 posted on 03/06/2010 10:10:52 AM PST by atomicweeder
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To: SandRat
Not necesarily military, but I turned 62 a week ago and signed up for SS against my plan to stay working until 64 or 65.

Everything about our economy says old(er) folks are gonna' get nailed every area they can swing a hammer.

3 posted on 03/06/2010 10:21:33 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true)
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To: SandRat
I have VA medical coverage and I was asked by the Doctor during a check up if I had ever been exposed to Agent Orange, I have high cholesterol and no meds have been able to bring it down

I told him I was all over II and III Corps and never even heard of Agent Orange until the 90’s when I was long out of the service. I wonder if that is related to this.

4 posted on 03/06/2010 10:35:59 AM PST by Little Bill (Carol Che-Porter is a MOONBAT.)
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To: Little Bill

Depends on where you were stationed. Went through this with my father’s VA disability claim.

5 posted on 03/06/2010 10:43:45 AM PST by Leofl (I'm from Texas, we don't dial 9-11)
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To: Little Bill

Could be.. File ASAP brother file.

6 posted on 03/06/2010 10:46:11 AM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country! What else needs said?)
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To: Leofl; SandRat
Stationed or operated? I think that that may be the operative word. You could be stationed at say Cu Chi, as I was, but you operated all over the Division Area, same,same Marines.

I was curious about the question I was asked and I think that Sandrat answered it. In my experiences with the VA once you get above the doctor level, they are evil. I don't need the disability money but I will file anyway, as I did with food stamps, for the laughs.

7 posted on 03/06/2010 11:12:19 AM PST by Little Bill (Carol Che-Porter is a MOONBAT.)
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To: SandRat

My husband is a Purple Heart recipient. He has the heart disease. He has filed 3 times citing Agent Orange and has been turned down for benefits.

8 posted on 03/06/2010 11:22:07 AM PST by beckysueb (Scott Brown is a start. Lets keep it going.)
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To: SandRat
I served in the army from 7/64 to 7/67. I did incur cardiac arrhythmia's during my service as well as back and knee injuries.

The VA back in 1991 granted me a service connected disability for the cardiac arrhythmia's, but denied for both the knee and back claiming that they both did occur in the service and were treated there, but the VA no longer considered them an issue even though I've been totally disabled since Dec 2000.

In so far as the cardiac arrhythmia's were concerned, the VA rated them at ZERO percent because I was at that time working a desk job even though I was out on disability for that entire year.

The VA will NEVER grant any compensation if they can get away without granting it no matter what the law says, and the law is always in their favor.

Back in 2007, there was a new law passed granting vets the right to sue VA, but that only applies within one year of being turned down on an appeal. I've been turned down on three appeals so far and now I have to go through that process again just to be able to hire a lawyer to sue the VA.

Interestingly, I do receive totally free medical care at the Orlando VA clinic due to my cardiac problems as well as the knee and back. The VA states that I am totally disabled but still denies any compensation for the disabilities which occurred in the army and were treated there and are on my service medical record.

Part of their denial for the knee and back was that I waited too long after getting out of the army to file. I remember that while I was in the process of leaving, I was told that if I claimed any health problems, I wouldn't be released from service until they were resolved. 1967 was not a good time to be extended.

9 posted on 03/06/2010 11:22:33 AM PST by dglang
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To: dglang

That sounds like the same song and dance they gave my husband. Since then he has had heart surgery. He hasn’t tried filing his case again. He said he is tired of fooling with them. Like you, he gets 100% paid medical.

10 posted on 03/06/2010 11:26:44 AM PST by beckysueb (Scott Brown is a start. Lets keep it going.)
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To: beckysueb
All I can recommend is take this article and file again showing then this article.
11 posted on 03/06/2010 11:34:50 AM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country! What else needs said?)
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To: SandRat
Vets should be aware that if you file now, and the claim is eventually approved for a sewrvice connected disablility, you can expect retroactive payment, sometimes amounting to six figure payoffs.

Agent Orange exposure has been a political football on both sides, with most claims eventually being approved due to political and not medical reasons. AO itself is a pretty benign substance for the human organism, and it wasn't even used that long or that widely in VN. But hey--politics trumps science so go for it.

12 posted on 03/06/2010 11:37:17 AM PST by hinckley buzzard
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To: SandRat

““The only way an eligible Vietnam veteran can lose out is if he or she delays filing or does not file a claim....’

OR already be dead from it, as are the two Viet Nam vets that were in my life.

13 posted on 03/06/2010 11:49:05 AM PST by AuntB (WE are NOT a nation of immigrants! We're a nation of Americans!
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To: beckysueb

I’m in the middle of trying to get some medical care for my husband. Get this, he serves 18 months in Vietnam, gets 2 Purple Hearts, a Silver and Bronze Star and NONE of this is deflected in his military records! They can’t even find the first year of service (which includes most of these incidents like the PH). That usually was a free ticket to receive care. Now they don’t give him the time of day. He is suffering greatly from an autoimmune disease that is listed as a presumptive effect from Agent Orange exposure. It is most maddening!

14 posted on 03/06/2010 12:11:27 PM PST by patriotsoul
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To: SandRat

Like with SS disability LAWYER UP FIRST!

I suggest every one on this thread READ the Medicare and Tricare.

Bambi doesn’t keep his buyer beware!


PLEASE ASK THEM TO REPEAL THE BIG NEW FEES in TRICARE for Life, the retired Military over 65 secondary health ins. which they passed in a DOD bill. They promised our Military these benefits, and our Military have earned them.

Sen Scott Brown’s number is 202-224-4543
Capitol Hill switchboard is 202-224-3121

Lots of local demwit phone numbers on this thread

Rename, repackage, rewrite it a tad smaller, and sell another pig in a poke. NO COLAs for granny, retired Military or retired fed employees. BIG NEW fees for Tricare for Life retired over 65 Military’s secondary health ins. (DOD bill already passed, delayed but goes into effect 2011 NEEDS TO BE REPEALED!


New Dem mantra: Woof, woof eat dog food granny....ala let them eat cake.

Obama says slight fix will extend Social Security,

Health Care Rationing for Seniors Another Problem in New Obama Plan

Medicare tax may apply to investment income (ObamaCare tax hike)

Obama: No reduced Medicare benefits in health care reform

Will healthcare reform mean cuts in Medicare for seniors?

Health Reform’s Hidden Victims Young people and seniors would pay a high price for ObamaCare.



Veterans’ G.I. Bill benefits MIA
TRI CARE FOR LIFE This from a google search:

This option would help reduce the costs of TFL, as well as costs for Medicare, by introducing minimum out-of pocket requirements for beneficiaries. Under this option, TFL would not cover any of the first $525 of an enrollee’s cost-sharing liabilities for calendar year 2011 and would limit coverage to 50 percent of the next $4,725 in Medicare cost sharing that the beneficiary incurred. (Because all further cost sharing would be covered by TFL, enrollees could not pay more than $2,888 in cost sharing in that year.)

Bill Would Restrict Veterans’ Health Care Options 11/06/09
Buyer and McKeon Offer Amendments to Protect Veterans and TRICARE Beneficiaries

Congress plans to block Tricare fee increases

By Rick Maze - Staff writer, Oct 7, 2009

Tricare fee increases imposed last week by the Defense Department will be repealed by a provision of the compromise 2010 defense authorization bill unveiled Wednesday by House and Senate negotiators.

The fee increases were announced on Sept. 30 and took effect on Oct. 1, but the defense bill, HR 2647, includes a provision barring any fee increases until the start of fiscal 2011.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Bill Matz, president of the National Association for Uniformed Services, said the announcement of fee increases was shocking considering that the Obama administration promised earlier this year to hold off on any new fee Tricare fee increases until fiscal 2011.

“President Obama and DoD assured NAUS and the entire military family earlier this year that there would rightly be no increases in any Tricare fees” in fiscal 2010, Matz said. “We took them at their word, and I can’t believe that a co-pay increase like this was allowed to go forward,” he added.

15 posted on 03/06/2010 12:19:39 PM PST by GailA (obamacare paid for by cuts & taxes on most vulnerable Veterans, disabled,seniors & retired Military)
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To: patriotsoul
If you have the records file for correction, not a big deal.
16 posted on 03/06/2010 12:20:03 PM PST by Little Bill (Carol Che-Porter is a MOONBAT.)
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To: patriotsoul

Wow! My husband had his medal and paperwork so they couldn’t refuse him but they do charge a copay for medicine and with a PH the meds are supposed to be no copay but he is tired of fighting them. They say they will fix it and they never do.

17 posted on 03/06/2010 12:52:08 PM PST by beckysueb (Scott Brown is a start. Lets keep it going.)
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To: SandRat

PING for next week.

18 posted on 03/06/2010 2:08:01 PM PST by OldEagle
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To: SandRat; stylecouncilor; windcliff; firep0w3r

I CORPS 68-69

I’ve had atrial fibrulation and had cardiac elctro-ablation in JUN 09, but I think it’s more hereditary than anything else, and have no knowledge of having been exposed to Agent Orange (dioxin) either during my first time there, or during a return trip in 2000.

19 posted on 03/17/2010 12:00:59 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: onedoug

File a claim anyway. The war turned your hair gray.

20 posted on 03/17/2010 1:54:25 PM PDT by windcliff
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