Date: April 14, 2008
Current Experience with the VA
The following is the text of an email dated 4/5/2008 from Fred Meyer, a CLL patient and vet with prior Agent Orange exposure, reproduced here with his permission:
I was diagnosed with CLL in May of 2007. My staging was "0", and that is where I currently remain.
Onced diagnosed I began to search the web for information on this disease, and I arrived here. I am a Vietnam Veteran, and part of the AO Registry, so I receive periodic updates on new diseases added to the presumtive list of caused by Agent Orange exposure. Of course until recently, this list did not have great importance to me, since thank God I had none of the conditions listed.
To make a long story short, after learning of my disease, I applied for Compensation payments based on the VA's rulings.
One important thing that all veterans should know, is that your local government agencie have Veteran's Service Derpartments or something similar. These organizations have trained people who will take care of all of your interfaces with the VA while you are applying for benefits. All you need to do is provide proof of service in Vietnam and proof of any dependents who also may increase the amount of your payment.
My local county Veterans Service Group took care of all my paperwork and answered all of the inquiries made by the VA. Within four months the VA ruled that I would get a 100% compensation rating along with additional money for my wife.
While I would rather not have the money at all, and live my life free of the possibilities of having CLL, the fact that I can have all treatments free of charge at a VA facility if need be takes some worries off of my mind.
Thanks to Peter Carpenter and his article for being in the forefront of this ruling. I urge all Vietnam Veterans who have been diagnosed with CLL to apply for benefits that they are certainly entitled to. We went there in good faith, and recognizing that we were putting our lives on the line, but be did not agree to be poisoned, and to have our lives aversely effected forty odd years later.
Thank you for this wonder source of information and encouragement.
The Price of
VA Accepts the Agent Orange Connection to CLL
Veterans Please Note
There is an acknowledged association between Agent Orange and CLL.
An authoritative reference for this connection is the Veterans and Agent Orange Update 2004 published by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (the CLL-related material in the 2004 Update is at pp 377 - 378).
But don't rush out to buy this document. A free summary of the relevant CLL - herbicides part is available in a clear and succinct Executive Summary, Table ES-1 (click on the pdf link on the page). If the source website for the link above is unavailable, a cached copy of this pdf document is available on this website. The online version might be more current.
The Veterans Administration's official policy on the link between Agent Orange exposure and CLL may be found on the VA Site on Herbicide Exposure. Please note that the VA has now listed CLL as a potential consequence of Agent Orange exposure. The site contains a number of fact sheets, called briefs, which deal with various conditiions that may arise from Agent Orange exposure. CLL patients will be particularly interested in the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia brief. This document, prepared in August 2005, provides information on the CLL - Agent Orange connection, history, government action and VA contact points for veterans. It is a key document for veterans who are dealing simultaneously with the organizational labyrinth and financial hurdles posed by the VA and this chronic disease.
In case the VA website is temporarily unavailable, here is a link to a cached pdf version of the document: CLL Brief. To be sure you have the most current version, you should use the document on the VA website if it is available.
Editor's Note: This information was sent in by Tim Klug, a former Marine who served three tours in Vietnam as an aviator and with the infantry.
One Veteran's Experience
VA Grants 100% Disability Status
The following is the text of an email dated 5/19/2004 from Peter Carpenter, a CLL patient and vet with prior Agent Orange exposure, reproduced here with his permission (in June 2006, Peter was elected a director of CLL Topics, Inc.):
I have been notified by the VA that because of my exposure to Agent Orange and my diagnosis of CLL that I have been granted 100% disability status. My request was filed in November of 2003 and granted in May of 2004 with benefits retroactive to November of 2003. As a consequence of the 100% disability rating all of my medical care, not just the CLL related care, will be provided by the VA.
I encourage other veterans who served in Vietnam and who have been diagnosed with CLL to file a claim promptly. The local DAV (Disabled American Veterans) literally filled out my claim form for me -- all I had to do was sign it.
2002 stage 0"
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