Members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 944 joined elected officials Feb. 17 in Utica, N.Y., to call for additional Agent Orange health care benefits. The VA currently recognizes more than a dozen illnesses as diseases with a “presumptive” link to exposure to the herbicide; veterans hope to add four more to the list to ease access to treatment.
“As of last year, the Academy of Science stated that these diseases are a result of Agent Orange,” chapter President Thomas Buono tole the Spectrum News, “hyperthyroidism, hypertension, bladder cancer and Parkinson’s symptoms. If you develop one of these diseases that are non-presumptive, there’s a lot of red tape.”
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other elected officials have called for these conditions to be included and covered by veterans’ health benefits. “I have numerous veterans in our chapter that have these conditions,” Buono said. “We’ve also had quite a few that have already since passed away based on these conditions.”