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| Michael P. Ehline

Diseases Veterans Get from Agent Orange

A person fighting for the country is admired for their audacity, bravery, and valor. However, it compels you to admire them more when you realize they are not fighting the enemies alone. The truth is, an individual in the military is facing many other threats that are either less or completely unknown to the world.

Among the many things that went from threats to real dangers there’s agent orange. Agent orange exposure has affected military veterans more than enemies or anything else for that matter. Veterans who were exposed to agent orange have lived their lives with many types of cancers.

What makes matters worse is that most diseases associated with agent orange were discovered after these military men and women completed their military service. Today, most of these vets are in dire need of VA benefits and many are getting it through Veterans Affairs disability benefits associated with agent orange.

Before you discover what agent orange exposure can do to the body and what VA disability benefits are available for veterans, let’s have a brief understanding of what agent orange is.

Agent Orange – What Exactly Is It?

Although completely phased out today, the production of agent orange was at its peak during Vietnam War. At its core, this agent is a herbicide, which means it is used for killing plants. During the Vietnam War, Vietnamese soldiers fighting against the US army were hiding in thick jungles.

The US army used many other chemicals, but mostly agent orange. Agent orange contained Dioxin, which among others, was the most toxic chemical that affected humans not only at the time of exposure but also for generations to come.

A Little about Dioxin

It is important to note here that dioxin is only one of the many other substances used in agent orange and other herbicides named after colors. However, its potency was the most lethal, and according to the companies that made it, even they were unaware of how impactful it was going to be.

Dioxin is only a short name, whereas the scientific name of this substance is 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro-dibenzo-para-dioxin. Some would even identify it as TCDD. There were other substances in the herbicides, such as Polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs.

There were more than 400 other chemicals with health effects, but they have never been discussed as much as TCDD. One of the reasons the producers of agent orange think it affected so many people was its concentration which was several times higher than the recommended level.

Dioxin’s Life

When exposed to sun, dioxin doesn’t remain active for more than 3 years. However, if it in the soil with no exposure to sun, it can linger on for more than 100 years. In the human body, it can live for about 20 years in the worst possible scenarios.

That’s why so many vets who were exposed to agent orange found out about its effects so many years later.

How Veterans Were Exposed to Agent Orange

As stated earlier, the US military used it to kill the vegetation in Vietnamese jungles where the enemy soldiers had their hideouts. The military would spray it in places where it believed the enemy soldiers were hiding.

One of the reasons of increased agent orange exposure in the US vets is that they used to spray it around their barracks and camps too. They would use sprinklers and trucks to spray agent orange around them.

Planes were used to spray agent orange in areas with heavy vegetation. The US military has used it on multiple occasions, including the war in Laos and Cambodia. When you combine the usage of agent orange in these regions, the military is said to have used more than 20 million gallons of it.

How Agent Orange Exposure Affects Veterans

The damage has already been done because all the exposure has taken place. The veterans aren’t fighting to avoid exposure. At this time, they are trying to fight a legal battle to get VA benefits so they can get treatment for agent orange exposure that has left them with many types of diseases, illnesses, and the worst of all, cancers.

Here are some of the possible conditions a veteran can end up with after exposure to agent orange.

Multiple Myeloma

Simply called Myeloma, this condition causes a lot of other harmful effects in the body that are not only dangerous but very painful too. The cancer occurs in the bone marrow infecting you blood in a way. The formation of white blood cells and plasma cells in your bones is hugely impacted by Myeloma.

It can result in weak bones, frequent infections, persistent fatigue, aching bones, vision blurring etc. It may even affect your kidneys. Why does infection become frequent due to this condition? Well, white blood cells are the ones that help your body fight off infections. When they are affected, infections become common.

Prostate Cancer

It is unfortunate that exposure to agent orange affects almost all parts of the body, resulting in prostate cancer that affects the highest number of veterans in the US. You should apply for maximum VA disability benefits if a surgery becomes inevitable in your case.

Parkinson’s Disease

It’s worse when a condition affects your brain and spinal cord. This one directly affects your brain, which results in your entire body becoming a problem as you can’t control its movement.

Your muscles either become very hard or your body starts to shake involuntarily. At its peak, this condition will not let you talk or move. It’s probably one of the worst conditions caused by agent orange as you can’t even fight it like a soldier.

Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

It is important to understand that there is another condition called Hodgkin’s disease but it primarily affects your neck region. On the other hand, the white blood cells affected by this condition maybe present in all parts of the body.

If you have symptoms of non Hodgkin’s lymphoma, it’s best you approach a doctor as soon as possible due to the fact that it is extremely difficult to treat this condition.

Hodgkin’s Disease

It is one of the common conditions occurring as a result of exposure to agent orange. Caused by agent orange, Hodgkin’s disease causes your immune system to collapse due to abnormal production of white blood cells in your body, usually accompanied with inflamed lymph nodes.

Respiratory difficulty and extreme tiredness are among the common signs of this condition. Just like prostate cancer and multiple myeloma, Hodgkin’s disease qualifies you for presumptive service connection disability benefits.

If you have swollen lymph nodes and you are a Vietnam War veteran, you should immediately get in touch with your doctor. It is among the agent orange presumptive conditions among many others that you will learn about as you read further.

Diabetes (Type 2)

Who could have thought they would get type 2 diabetes due to herbicide exposure. Again, it is among the conditions related to agent orange exposure that don’t require much from you to prove to get VA disability benefits.

It is among presumptive service connection conditions, which means if you provided military service in Vietnam and you have this condition, you qualify for agent orange benefits from Veterans Affairs. High blood sugar levels can be fatal for anyone at any age.

For veterans, their wounds might not heal due to this condition, and may even result in amputation if not treated on time.

Respiratory Cancer

Respiratory cancers can be of many types, affecting different parts of the body. The military service of a Vietnam war veteran and the resulting agent orange exposure could have resulted in lung cancer, or cancer of the larynx trachea and bronchus.

It also qualifies you for agent orange benefits on presumptive basis. A herbicide exposure of this nature usually qualifies veterans for maximum benefits from VA.


Yet again, this condition arising from agent orange exposure results in the death of your immune system. Any veteran exposed to agent orange might end up with very weak immune system because of compromised white cells in the blood.

The more accurate name for this condition occurring in veterans exposed to agent orange is b-cell leukemia. It proves to be extremely dangerous in the old age because of how weak it makes the immune system and opens doors for frequent infections.

Al Amyloidosis

This is one of the most dangerous conditions occurring due to agent orange exposure. It is not a condition of a particular organ. Instead, this illness can kill every organ in the body due to abnormal protein production the body.

Chest pain, swollen arms, feet, legs, rare bowel movements, and minor wounds appearing on the body could be signs of al amyloidosis. You can get disability benefits for this condition on presumptive service connection basis.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma

VA disability benefits for agent orange exposure resulting in this condition are easy to acquire. This condition related to agent orange harms your body tissues, producing lumpy structures where the condition occurs.

If you have a lump in the body somewhere and you served the military in Vietnam War, you should meet a doctor ASAP and keep your medical records updated to apply for disability compensation.

Other Diseases Associated with Agent Orange

There are many other conditions resulting from agent orange exposure, such as coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease, hormone imbalance, porphyria cutanea tarda, peripheral neuropathy, chloracne, etc.

Many of these conditions are considered presumptive diseases and if you worked for the army in Vietnam War era may make you eligible for disability compensation on presumptive basis.

Understanding Presumptive Diseases

Any health problems or conditions that VA health care system accepts as service connected without detailed investigations are considered presumptive conditions. In other words, the military says that if you are veteran from a particular war era and you have this condition, we are ready to VA health care benefits.

In the case of veterans who served in the war in Vietnam, their service connection with abovementioned conditions is linked to agent orange exposure. Any male or female vet who served in areas where they were exposed to agent orange can conveniently get disability benefits for these conditions.

Understanding the VA Benefits for Agent Orange Exposure

You have to know that the conditions arising from your exposure to herbicides, such as agent orange, can qualify you for different types of disability compensation. The main deciding factor is the type of condition and the stage it which it is diagnosed.

You can get these benefits for all of the conditions state above, from ischemic heart disease to malignant lymphoma, and prostate cancer to lung cancer.

If you are among Vietnam veterans who qualify for maximum benefits, you could get more than $3300 every month in coverage. It is important to keep in mind that even the maximum benefits for veterans exposed to agent orange are given on a monthly basis.

Yes, the families of Vietnam veterans can also qualify for these benefits. The one thing to keep in mind when looking for VA disability compensation is the occurrence of presumptive diseases.

Applying for Benefits for Presumptive Diseases

If you served in areas with agent orange exposure and you have the conditions stated above, you can take your agent orange claim to VA based on presumptive conditions related to agent orange.

VA will not ask you whether your condition occurred during your service, after it, or if it got worse due to your military service. You can get a detailed explanation of presumptive diseases and which ones are on the list on this page from VA.

Disability Rating and Compensation

An important thing to keep in mind is that your compensation depends on the disability rating from VA. This rating defines how much you will get, how you will get it, and whether your family qualifies for benefits.

The disability rating goes from 0 to all the way to 100. For Vietnam era veterans exposed to agent orange, the minimum benefit you can get for your health conditions is $152 every month.

If you can produce medical evidence, you can get higher disability rating. The maximum you can get is $3,333.06 every month for complete disability.

you should also know how this rating works and on what basis VA comes up with this rating. VA will look at your medical conditions and see how often their symptoms are occurring, how painful they are, and for how long they stay to decide the disability rating.

Even mild symptoms can earn you a higher rating if they occur a lot because they can get you higher VA disability ratings. If you have a medical condition due to dioxin exposure, your family members can also qualify for benefits.

However, your VA disability rating has to be 30 or above to include dependents in your compensation.

A Few Words with Veterans

If you are are war veteran or someone whose loved one is a war veteran, you have to be extremely careful with certain things. Firstly, you have to make sure you visit the doctor as frequently as possible.

Any small issues with your lymph nodes, lymph glands, thyroid gland, or even a mild skin condition should be included in your medical record. Issues with nervous system, lymphatic tissue, connective tissues, etc. are common in war veterans with herbicide exposure.

Your medical conditions are not to be taken lightly even if it is a small bruise on your body. A lesion on the skin appearing out of nowhere could be a sign of porphyria cutanea tarda. A mind burning sensation while urinating could be a sign of bladder cancer.

Bladder cancer, lung cancer, blood cancer, breast cancer, etc. are among common cancers found in the US veterans. So, regardless of whether it’s as serious as bladder cancer, or as mild as a bruise on the body or chest pain, you have to apply for compensation and other VA benefits.

Last but not least, make sure you eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and go for a medical exam as frequently as possible.

The Help for Veterans Has Arrived

Michael Ehline is a proud former marine who is also the son of another proud marine, Paul Ehline. He has seen his father lose his life to cancer that resulted from his service in the military during the Vietnam era.

After the departure of this father from this mortal world, Michael Ehline took the responsibility of helping veterans with cancer in every way he could. Firstly, he wanted to see if the marines were up to the task of showing solidarity to one of their own.

He started the Paul Ehline Annual Ride, in which he is joined by all those who support veterans and their endeavors, not only for the country but against cancer. When he approached the former marines for their support, they were more than ready.

He recently completed a successful motorcycle ride in which many members of the United States Marine Corps were there to honor his father’s bravery and of those who served the army just like him.

Now, Michael Ehline helps veterans through events to highlight their military service-related cancers and spreading awareness about the issue. He also collects donations from people for the veterans.

Most importantly, he helps veterans and their families get in touch with the right people who can help them with their compensation and disability claims.

Be Careful When You Ride

In the end, it is important to mention that whether it is a motorcycle ride to show solidarity with veterans or a casual ride on the road, you have to be careful when you ride this engine-powered horse.

Despite your care, if you or someone you know has ended up in a motorcycle accident, then you need a passionate motorcycle accident and personal injury lawyer on your side. That’s where Michael Ehline comes in.

He can help you with your personal injury case through his passionate and aggressive representation. Moreover, he’s made it easy for you to start the legal process by giving you free case evaluation.

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