DUNKIRK – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is calling on U.S. Veterans Affairs officials to add new medical conditions caused by side effects from Agent Orange to the VA’s presumptive conditions list.
Schumer, standing at Memorial Park in Dunkirk Thursday, demanding a detailed explanation as to why agencies continue to block billions in health care coverage and benefits for thousands of Vietnam veterans.
The Senator says a 2016 National Academies report found suggestive evidence that bladder cancer and hypothyroidism were associated with veterans’ service, as well as clarified that veterans with “Parkinson-like symptoms” (Parkinsonism) should be considered eligible under the presumption that Parkinson’s disease and the veterans’ service are connected.
Following this report, former VA Secretary David Shulkin announced that he would be adding the three conditions to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list in the near future—which would allow Vietnam War-era personnel stricken with these illnesses to receive health care benefits—but that announcement never came, the Senator explained.
Health officials say diagnoses of hypertension among Vietnam War-era veterans have also been linked to Agent Orange exposure.
Even though Schumer says he secured a provision in the recently-passed budget deal requiring Office of Management and Budget and the VA to issue a detailed report to Congress on the delay in adding these conditions to the presumptive conditions list, the report was woefully insufficient and both agencies have failed to properly explain why they are denying these Veterans.