On April 10, 2019, Representative Bruce Westerman (AR), introduced H.R. 2200, the Keeping Our Promises Act. This legislation would add multiple diseases to the presumptive disease list for Agent Orange exposure.
In the Veterans and Agent Orange update in 2016, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) committee concluded there was compelling evidence for adding bladder cancer and hypothyroid conditions to the presumptive disease list. Further, the study clarified that Vietnam veterans with “Parkinson-like symptoms,” but without a formal diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, should be considered under the presumption of Parkinson’s disease. In the Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 11, released in November 2018, the NAM concluded that there is sufficient evidence of an association between Agent Orange and the development of hypertension. The report elevated hypertension from suggestive evidence to sufficient evidence of a link.
The VA has not taken any action on adding these four diseases. We are concerned by the recent release of internal documents that indicate Administration officials challenged the previous Secretary’s authority to add these four diseases and may have even impeded action. Even more troubling is the possibility that the Administration is outweighing the cost of adding these diseases over those veterans in need of VA benefits and health care. Three of these pending presumptive diseases have been held up for more than three years, leaving affected veterans, family members and survivors waiting.
DAV led a coalition of 20 military and veterans service organizations to bring this issue to the forefront. Earlier this month we called on Secretary Wilkie directly, to add these four diseases. To date, we have not had any response from the VA.
Because the VA and the Administration are not taking action, we must turn to Congress. H.R. 2200 will add bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, “Parkinson’s-like symptoms”, and hypertension to the presumptive disease list for Agent Orange exposure. All four of these diseases have been scientifically associated with Agent Orange and are recommended for inclusion by the National Academy of Medicine.
DAV strongly supports H.R. 2200 as it is aligned with DAV Resolution No. 174, which calls for the addition of these presumptive diseases. Please use the prepared letter or draft your own to urge your Representatives to support and cosponsor H.R. 2200. Stand with us and support the addition of these diseases as presumptive to Agent Orange. Thank you for your continued support of the DAV Commander’s Action Network.