Legislation would assist veterans affected by Agent Orange and other toxic herbicides
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation along with Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Jon Tester (D-MT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-NY), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) titled the Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act of 2017. This bill aims to expand presumptive service connection for veterans who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in order to provide additional access to critical healthcare benefits for those shown to have been exposed to toxic substances.
“American men and women who bravely served our nation near the Korean DMZ have suffered from severe, debilitating, and even fatal health problems that have resulted from their exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange or other toxic herbicides,” said Senator Collins. “This legislation will ensure veterans exposed to Agent Orange receive the care and assistance they deserve. As our veterans never stopped trying to serve our country under the most difficult conditions, we must never stop trying to serve them when they return home.”
Currently, presumption for Korean DMZ veterans only covers the time period of April 1, 1968-Aug. 31, 1971; however, now declassified Department of Defense (DoD) documents indicate that the testing period of toxic herbicides occurred before the current presumptive date range. The Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act would expand the presumptive dates to cover the period of Sept. 1, 1967-Aug. 31, 1971.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars estimates the approximate number of Korean DMZ veterans the Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act of 2017 could benefit is between 1,000 and 1,500. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ.).