U.S. Admits Agent Orange, Cancers Link
In the government’s first admission linking Agent Orange to a serious medical problem, Veterans Affairs Secretary Edward J. Derwinski directed his agency Friday to pay $8 million a year to Vietnam veterans afflicted by a broad class of cancers.
The decision to compensate veterans suffering from soft-tissue sarcomas was prompted by recommendations of an advisory committee that concluded there is “at least as likely as not” a significant statistical link between exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange, which contained the deadly contaminant dioxin, and the cancers.
An estimated 1,100 Vietnam veterans or their families are expected to receive compensation for soft-tissue sarcomas, tumors found in such tissues as muscles or body fat.
“I believe this is another step forward in resolving a most difficult and emotional issue,” Derwinski said. “We intend to proceed as quickly as possible to award compensation to these veterans who are so deserving of our care and concern.”
About 36,000 veterans have filed claims contending they were medically disabled by Agent Orange.
In March, Derwinski announced that the VA would grant about $20 million annually to 1,700 Vietnam veterans stricken by non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare cancer that veterans’ groups claim is associated with Agent Orange exposure. At the time, he refused to acknowledge a link to the herbicide.
Currently, the only compensation the VA offers related directly to Agent Orange involves veterans who developed a skin rash called chloracne within six months after being exposed to the herbicide.