Richard T. Riehle
posted on December 14, 2017 12:46
After 18 months of review by his department, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David J. Shulkin awkwardly announced Wednesday that he plans to “further explore” adding ailments to the list of compensable conditions VA presumes were caused by exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War.
The decision to punt long-anticipated decisions on Agent Orange-related ailments will disappoint thousands of aging veterans with bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkinson-like tremors and hypertension (high blood pressure). Veterans and survivors were hopeful some or all of those conditions would be added to VA’s presumptive list of ailments linked to wartime herbicides, based on the latest and final review of medical and scientific literature on Agent Orange from the National Academy of Medicine (formerly known as the Institute of Medicine).
Instead, on the Nov. 1 deadline date that VA itself had set for this packet of decisions, Shulkin issued a brief statement at 6 p.m. promising only more delay.
“After thoroughly reviewing the National Academy of Medicine(NAM)’s latest report regarding veterans and Agent Orange, and associated data and recommendations from [VA’s] NAM Task Force, I have made a decision to further explore new presumptive conditions for service connection that may ultimately qualify for disability compensation. I appreciate NAM’s work and the commitment and expertise of [my] Task Force, and look forward to working with the [Trump] administration on the next steps in the process.”
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