Benefits Ordered for Agent Orange-Related Illness
A three-judge appellate panel in San Francisco on Thursday ruled that the Department of Veterans Affairs must pay disability benefits to Vietnam veterans suffering from a type of leukemia caused by exposure to Agent Orange, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The decision marked the sixth major ruling against VA in a case filed in 1986 by veterans seeking disability benefits for illnesses linked to Agent Orange exposure (Weinstein, Los Angeles Times, 7/20).
VA in 2003 acknowledged that chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL, was linked to exposure to Agent Orange. However, officials refused to pay retroactive disability benefits to veterans with CLL who issued claims prior to VA's findings (Richman, Oakland Tribune, 7/20).
U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson in 2005 ruled in favor of granting retroactive payments to veterans with CLL. The VA appealed the decision, leading to the ruling on Thursday.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt in the ruling wrote that the panel hopes "that this litigation will now end ... and that our veterans will finally receive the benefits to which they are morally and legally entitled."
Reinhardt was joined on the panel by Judges John Noonan and Milan Smith (Los Angeles Times, 7/20).