As we reported at length in a previous blog, exposure to the parasite-infested waters of Vietnam has caused bile-duct cancer in countless veterans. The cancer is aggressive, hard to detect, and often fatal.
Despite the fact that the Department of Veterans' Affairs' ("VA") medical system encountered 700 veterans with the rare cancer between 2001 and 2016, the VA remains largely in self-serving denial. Its representatives have continuously insisted that they are “not aware of any studies that show that bile-duct cancer occurs more often in U.S. Vietnam War Veterans than in other groups of people.” Because it is essential that veterans seeking disability benefits prove that their disability is connected to their time in service, the VA has relied on this lack of studies to deny disability benefits for bile-duct cancer 75% of the time.
The VA’s indifference has been a horrible assault on the veterans’ community, similar to that experienced by the victims of Agent Orange-related illnesses.
Thankfully, a recent study (“the study”) weakens the VA’s claims by providing undeniable proof that Vietnam veterans are in fact more likely than other groups to be affected by bile-duct cancer.
One in Four Vietnam Veterans Harbored the Parasite
The study, which was conducted by the Northport VA, screened 50 Vietnam veterans who ate undercooked freshwater fish while serving in Vietnam. Of those studied, nearly one in four were found to have harbored the cancer-causing parasite at some point.
Because the parasite can also be inadvertently ingested through drinking water or bathing, it is likely that the study, which only reflects the experience of veterans who ingested the parasite through the consumption of undercooked fish, understate the severity of the issue.
Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Tom Suozzi Push the VA to Do More
Long-time veterans’ advocates Chuck Schumer and Tom Suozzi have released statements insisting that the VA conduct a broader study. With more research, it is possible that bile-duct cancer will be labeled “presumptive,” meaning that the VA will “presume” that the cancer was caused by a veteran’s time in service for the purpose of disability benefits. As of now, the burden of proving service-connection is on the veterans themselves.
Don’t Wait – Veterans Exposed to the Parasite in Vietnam Can Win Benefits with the Help of a Veterans’ Law Attorney
Even though the VA has yet to label bile-duct cancer presumptive, it is still possible to win disability benefits, particularly with the help of an experienced Veterans’ Law attorney.
If you are a Vietnam veteran with bile-duct cancer, we encourage you to apply for benefits through your regional office (“RO”) right away. If your RO denies your application or gives you an unacceptable rating decision, we are here to help. With decades of combined experience cutting through VA bias and successfully overturning RO decisions, we are confident we can win you the benefits you deserve. Once you have your RO decision, send us a note or give us a call at (877) 629-1712. We will take care of the VA so that you can focus on what matters most.