Shinseki Discusses Agent Orange Developments

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki last week defended his recent decision to add heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and leukemia to the conditions that VA officials can presume Vietnam War veterans suffer as a result of Agent Orange exposure. Shinseki told the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee that he based his determination on the findings of a July 2009 National Academy report and numerous expert opinions that established the association between those diseases and exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical herbicide that the United States used in Vietnam to defoliate forested areas. “My determinations were not made lightly,” and were in accordance with the Agent Orange Act of 1991, he told the panel Sept. 23. The law does not allow him to consider the economic impact of a presumption, or exclude a disease based on how common it is, he noted. (AFPS report by Lisa Daniel)