Agent Orange is the name used to describe a particular type of herbicide that was used by the military in Vietnam from 1965 to 1971. It was used to remove unwanted plant life and leaves which otherwise provided cover for enemy forces. The name "Agent Orange" came from the orange strip on the 55-gallon drums in which it was stored. Agent Orange was a mixture of chemicals containing nearly equal amounts of the two active ingredients, 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) and 2,4,5-T (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid). During the manufacturing process of these ingredients, a contaminant 2,3,7,8-tetracholordibenzo-p-dioxin or TCDD (also called "dioxin") was produced in very small quantities.
Many Vietnam Veterans have questions regarding Agent Orange exposure because it did contain minute amounts of dioxin. There has been an extensive amount of research performed on evaluating the health effects of exposure to Agent Orange. These research results are updated and published every two years in reports issued by the Institute of Medicine*. Based on results of an Institute of Medicine (IOM) study released in October 2009, the VA extend service-connection benefits to Vietnam Veterans with B cell leukemias, Parkinson’s disease, and ischemic heart disease.
To date, the VA recognizes a number of conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure. Unfortunately, there is no good data to determine how much contact with the Agent Orange herbicide Vietnam Veterans may have had or to identify how much Agent Orange exposure was required to increase the risk of the developing one of the health conditions noted in the link above.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has created an Agent Orange Registry Program to respond to the medical problems and concerns of Veterans exposed to Agent Orange. This registry program is one way in which the VA monitors the special health concerns of Vietnam Veterans. If you are a Vietnam Veteran with an Agent Orange Health Concern, you may be eligible for the Agent Orange Registry. The registry provides eligible Veterans a free specialized and comprehensive health examination with blood work, urinalysis, EKG and chest-x-ray (when medically indicated) and answers to any questions they may have regarding Agent Orange.
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