Veterans Affairs: Health Care and Benefits for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Since the 1970s, Vietnam-era veterans have attributed certain medical illnesses, disabilities, and birth defects to exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides sprayed by the U.S. Air Force to destroy enemy crops and remove forest cover. During the last 30 years, Agent Orange legislation has established and updated the health and disability benefits of Vietnam veterans exposed to herbicides. Several laws were enacted by Congress to provide health care services to Vietnam veterans. The Veterans Health Care, Training and Small Business Loan Act P.L. 97-72 elevated Vietnam veterans priority status for health care at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities by recognizing a veterans own report of exposure as sufficient proof to receive medical care unless there was evidence to the contrary. The Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 P.L. 104-262 completely restructured the VA medical care eligibility requirements for all veterans. Under P.L. 104-262, a veteran does not have to demonstrate a link between a certain health condition and exposure to Agent Orange instead, medical care is provided unless the VA has determined that the condition did not result from exposure to Agent Orange.
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