Veterans who served on Guam and suffer from diseases associated with Agent Orange will be eligible for care under legislation signed by President Biden on Thursday.
The military has denied the use of Agent Orange on Guam, but veterans have argued for years that they applied the herbicide to control vegetation at various locations around the island.
Del. Michael San Nicolas, who pushed for the legislation in the House of Representatives, has previously said that federal recognition of Agent Orange use here will allow Guam to explore “exposure consequences throughout the island, opening the door for us to make our case that community impacts need consideration.”
The Veterans Agent Orange Exposure Equity Act of 2022, a section of the legislation signed by Biden, “expands the presumption of service-connection for diseases associated with exposure to certain herbicide agents for veterans who served in Vietnam.
Specifically, the bill expands the presumption to cover veterans who served during specified time frames in Thailand at any U.S. or Royal Thai bases, Laos, Cambodia, Guam or American Samoa, or the waters thereof, or on Johnson Atoll. Under the bill, such veterans are eligible for VA hospital care, medical services and nursing home care.
For Guam, the specified time frame of service is 1962 to July 31, 1980.
The legislation signed by Biden was a comprehensive veteran’s benefits package dealing with toxic exposure through military service.
In addition to expanding coverage for Agent Orange exposure, the Honoring our PACT Act opened federal health care services for millions of veterans who served at military bases where waste was disposed of in “burn pits.”
The law caps a lengthy battle to ensure treatment for chronic illnesses that veterans have blamed on burn pits, which were used to dispose of chemicals, tires, plastics, medical equipment and human waste on military bases. Estimates of affected troops run to 3.5 million.
This legislation is considered to be the largest expansion of veteran’s health care in more than three decades.
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