The lasting effects of Agent Orange are well-known, but this tactical herbicide wasn’t the only dangerous chemical that was used during the Vietnam War. As part of Operation Ranch Hand, a military operation that lasted from 1962 to 1971, the U.S. military used a family of new formulations known collectively as Rainbow Herbicides. Many Veterans are still struggling with the consequences of their Rainbow Herbicide exposure, so it’s important to understand how your service during the Vietnam War affects your eligibility for VA disability benefits.
Types of Rainbow Herbicides
The Rainbow Herbicides got their nicknames based on the color of the bands around the barrels they were shipped in. They include:
- Agent Orange and its related formulations Orange II, Orange III, and Super Orange
- Agent Pink
- Agent Green
- Agent Blue
- Agent Purple
- Agent White
Over 20 million gallons of Rainbow Herbicides were used during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange was the most popular, with 11,712,860 gallons of its various versions used from 1965 to 1970 alone.
Effects of Rainbow Herbicide Exposure
All of these herbicides were similar chemically. Agent Orange was a combination of n-butyl ester 2, 4-D and n-butyl ester 2,4,5-T, while the other Rainbow Herbicides were combinations of these two chemicals and their related variants.
All of the Rainbow Herbicides contained dioxin and dioxin-like compounds. Dioxins are highly toxic chemical compounds that are known to cause a wide range of health problems, including cancer, reproductive issues, and immune system disorders. They are sometimes called persistent environmental pollutants (POPs) because they can remain in the environment for many years.
Receiving VA Disability Benefits for Rainbow Herbicide Exposure
The VA applies the same standards to all Rainbow Herbicide exposure. If you were exposed to Agent Blue, Agent White, or one of the lesser-known herbicides, you have the same protections as a Veteran exposed to Agent Orange. Note that this includes Veterans who served outside Vietnam, since these chemicals were also transported, tested, stored, or used in Thailand, Korea, Cambodia, and parts of the U.S.
If a Veteran has been diagnosed with a condition that qualifies for a presumptive service connection, they do not need to submit evidence to prove their service caused their illness. Military records establishing that they served in a qualifying location during a qualifying time period are sufficient enough to establish a service connection. There is no level of exposure to Rainbow Herbicides that is considered safe, so a Veteran who only spent a few days or weeks in a qualifying area is still eligible for VA disability benefits if they’ve been diagnosed with a condition that qualifies for a presumptive service connection.
Types of cancer that qualify for a presumptive service connection include:
- Bladder cancer
- Chronic B-cell leukemia
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Prostate cancer
- Respiratory cancers (including lung cancer)
- Some soft tissue sarcomas
Other illnesses eligible for a presumptive service connection include:
- AL amyloidosis
- Chloracne (or related types of acneiform disease)
- Diabetes (Type 2 only)
- Ischemic heart disease
- Parkinsonism and Parkinson’s disease
- Peripheral neuropathy (early onset)
- Porphyria cutanea tarda
Conditions qualifying for a presumptive service connection vary widely in severity. Some are considered 100% disabling, while others will receive much lower ratings. Medical evidence documenting the severity of your symptoms and the treatments you’ve tried is the best way to ensure you receive the highest possible disability rating.
Another way to increase your disability rating is to make sure you receive compensation for all of your secondary service-connected conditions. For example, if you qualify for a presumptive service connection for Type 2 diabetes, you can receive a secondary service connection for conditions caused by poor blood sugar control, such as high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction.
How an Agent Orange Registry Health Exam Can Help
Veterans who are concerned about their Rainbow Herbicide exposure may wish to receive a free Agent Orange Registry health exam from the VA. This exam can provide insight into any medical symptoms that may be related to your military service. If you develop additional symptoms after your initial appointment, you can request a second examination.
You are not required to have an Agent Orange Registry health exam to receive VA disability benefits. If additional information about your condition is needed to assign an appropriate disability rating, you’ll be asked to attend a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam.
Request a Free Consultation Today
The process of applying for VA disability benefits can be difficult to navigate when you’re facing health challenges, but an experienced Veterans benefits attorney can help ensure that you receive the highest possible rating for your condition. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.