On October 13, 2009, VA Secretary Shinseki decided to establish service connection for Vietnam veterans with three conditions; Parkinson’s, B cell leukemias, and ischemic heart disease. These join the already established conditions
In the case of a surviving spouse, either the veteran’s death certificate should list one of these presumptive diseases as cause of death OR the cause of death must be linked to one of these diseases.
The decision to add these three new conditions was based on scientific evidence linking these conditions to exposure to Agent Orange, an herbicide sprayed in Vietnam. As in all other conditions, the VA typically requires proof of “boot on the ground” in most cases or proof of direct exposure to Agent Orange.
Please note that on November 2nd, the National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission released a bulletin stating that the VA instructed its regional offices to stay the adjudication of all claims seeking presumptive service connection related to the three new conditions pending the introduction of final regulations into the Federal Registry. However, veterans (and surviving spouses) who would qualify for these benefits are urged to go ahead and submit a claim to help lock in a retro-active payment date.