Retired Army Sgt. Jim Rogers served in the military for 27 years, including Vietnam, but now he’s fighting for something else – a veteran’s right to VA healthcare.
“I was originally drafted in 1969 and declined an opportunity to go to helicopter flight school so the Army put me in the infantry. That’s what I did there,” Rogers said.
“Of course, Agent Orange was everywhere over there. Today it’s presumptive if you were in country, you were exposed to it,” he explained.
According to KOB 4 News, the VA has a list of 14 diseases officially associated with Agent Orange exposure. However, the National Academy of medicine says that there are four diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure that the VA does not include on it’s list: hyperthyroidism, hypertension, bladder cancer and Parkinson’s-like symptoms.
Rogers, who suffered a heart attack in 2001 and applied for VA benefits in 2011, says that he suffers from both hyperthyroidism and hypertension but that niether condition is covered through the VA, despite his Agent Orange exposure.
Despite multiple studies linking Agent Orange to these four diseases, the VA says it will need to complete its own studies before including the diseases on the list.
“The department currently awaits the results of two studies, Vietnam Era Health Retrospective Observational Study, and Vietnam Era Mortality Study, that will guide decisions on this issue,” explained a VA spokesperson.
“(The) VA is committed to regular review of all emerging evidence of adverse impacts to Veterans from Agent Orange, but the department will not be announcing any new presumptive conditions until there is sufficient evidence to support an informed decision.”
Still, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and dozens of Senate Democrats mailed a letter to President Trump on Wednesday, urging him to add the four diseases to the list for the good of our country’s veterans.
“Your Administration’s refusal to add these conditions to the presumptive list continues to deny more than 190,000 sick and aging veterans the health care and compensation they have earned and desperately need,” Heinrich wrote.
“We all went and put our life on the line…let’s have a little trade off here, a little give and take,” Rogers added.