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Agent Orange Registry Program
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Agent Orange Registry Program
Agent Orange Brief
Prepared by the Environmental Agents Service (131)
VA Central Office, Washington, DC 20420
Agent Orange Registry Program
What is it?
In mid-1978, the Veterans Administration, now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), set up a register of Vietnam veterans who were worried that they may have been exposed to herbicides during their military service in Vietnam. This registry mainly consists of an extensive medical examination, and is offered at all VA medical centers. The Agent Orange Registry is a computerized index of all of those examinations. In September 2000, VA approved these examinations for veterans who served in Korea in 1968 or 1969. In August 2001, VA expanded the registry to include those veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during testing, transporting, or spraying of these herbicides for military purposes.
What should veterans expect from an Agent Orange Registry Examination?
Veteran participating in this voluntary program, offered at all VA medical centers, are given the following baseline laboratory studies: chest x-ray (if one has not been done within the past 6 months); complete blood count; blood chemistries and enzyme studies; and urinalysis. Particular attention is paid to the detection of chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, type 2 diabetes, soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, respiratory cancers, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and peripheral neuropathy. Evidence is also sought concerning the following potentially relevant symptoms or conditions: altered sex drive; congenital deformities (birth defects, including spina bifida) among children; repeated infections; nervous system disorders; sterility; and difficulties in carrying pregnancies to term. Important note: A registry examination does not automatically lead to a disability claim, which must be filed separately if the veteran is seeking disability compensation. Veterans seeking compensation are not required to take a registry examination, and Vietnam veterans who have a registry examination are not required to seek compensation.
How does a veteran benefit from taking the Agent Orange Registry examination?
The examination provides the participating veteran with an opportunity to receive a complete health evaluation and answers to questions concerning the current state of knowledge on the relationship between herbicide exposure and health problems following completion of the examination, the veteran is given results of the physical exam and laboratory tests. This information is provided to the veteran by both a face-to-face discussion with a physician familiar with the health aspects of the Agent Orange issue and a follow-up letter summarizing results of the examination. Occasionally, previously undetected medical problems are found. With prompt attention, many times these illnesses can be successfully treated even if they are not related to Agent Orange exposure. Registry participants are also automatically added to the mailing list for the "Agent Orange Review," a newsletter that provides valuable information about Agent Orange developments. The Registry permits VA to contact veterans for further testing if continuing research efforts should make this action advisable. Following decisions by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs during the past several years to recognize additional illnesses as service-connected, VA contacted Registry participants who had those diagnoses to urge them to file claims for disability compensation.
Who is eligible?
Any veteran, male or female, who had active military service in the Republic of Vietnam between 1962 and 1975, and expresses a concern relating to exposure to herbicides, may participate in the Registry. Eligible veterans who want to participate in this program should contact the nearest VA medical facility for an appointment. A veteran who did not serve in Vietnam is not eligible for the Agent Orange Registry examination unless he or she (1) served in Korea in 1968 or 1969, or (2) was exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during the testing, transportation, or spraying of these herbicides for military purpose. The spouses and children of veterans are not eligible for this examination.
What are the limitations and uses of the Registry?
No special Agent Orange tests are offered since there is no test to show if a veteran's medical problem was caused by Agent Orange or other herbicides used in Vietnam. There are tests that show the level of dioxin in human fat and blood, but such tests are used only for research purposes. VA does not use dioxin levels as a clinical diagnostic test because there is no value to the diagnosis or treatment of individual veterans. Further, by law, VA presumes that all Vietnam veterans were exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. It is important to understand that the Agent Orange Registry is not a scientific study. Because of the self-selected nature of the Registry participants (that is, the individuals decide themselves to be part of the Registry rather than being "chosen" in a scientific manner), this group of veterans cannot be viewed as being representative of Vietnam veterans as a whole. Therefore, the health-related information collected cannot be used for scientific research. The information can, however, be used to detect possible health trends and can provide some useful facts about the group itself.
Who has participated in the Registry?
As of the end of September 2003, more than 334,000 Vietnam veterans had participated in this program. Although the program is more than 25 years old, many veterans are still contacting the VA each week for their initial Registry examination. Many of these veterans have no medical problems; others present a wide range of ailments. Veterans interested in receiving the Agent Orange Registry examination should contact the nearest VA medical center and request an Agent Orange registry examination.
If a veteran who has participated in the Agent Orange Registry examination program changes residence whom should he or she contact?
A veteran who moves after receiving the Agent Orange examination should contact the Agent Orange Coordinator at the nearest VA medical center and the Agent Orange Clerk (200/397A), VA Automation Center, 1615 Woodward Street, Austin, Texas 78772-0001. Both the old and new addresses should be included, and it should be indicated that changes are for the Agent Orange Registry. Such action will help VA notify veterans about significant developments and will update VA's mailing list for distribution of the VA's national Agent Orange newsletter.
If a Vietnam veteran receives an Agent Orange Registry examination, does that automatically make him or her eligible for disability compensation?
No. Veterans who wish to be considered for disability compensation must file a claim for that benefit. Many Agent Orange Registry participants have no medical problems. For more information regarding disability compensation, see Agent Orange Brief, B3.
When will the Agent Orange Registry examination program be ended?
There are no plans to stop the Registry. The examinations will continue to be available for the foreseeable future.
Who should be contacted for additional information regarding the Agent Orange Registry?
A great deal of information can be obtained from our web site: www.va.gov/AgentOrange. At each VA medical center there is an "Environmental Health Clinician" responsible for the conduct of Agent Orange Registry examinations. These individuals participate in regularly scheduled nationwide conference calls and receive mailings from VA headquarters updating them on the latest developments on Agent Orange. Each medical center also has an Environmental Health Coordinator who has information about the Agent Orange Registry and related matters. VA medical center libraries also have considerable information, including books and videotapes, regarding Agent Orange. The Environmental Agents Service (131), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20420, is another good source of information on this subject.
Where is additional information about Agent Orange related issues available?
The following Agent Orange Brief fact sheets (including the one you are reading) are available at VA medical centers nationwide and on-line at www.va.gov/AgentOrange: A1.Agent Orange General Information; A2.Agent Orange Class Action Lawsuit; B1.Agent Orange Registry; B2.Agent Orange - Health Care Eligibility; B3.Agent Orange and VA Disability Compensation; B4.VA Information Resources on Agent Orange and Related Matters; C1.Agent Orange - The Problem Encountered in Research; C2.Agent Orange and Vietnam Related Research - VA Projects; C3.Agent Orange and Vietnam Related Research - Non-VA Projects; D1.Agent Orange and Birth Defects; D2.Agent Orange and Chloracne; D3.Agent Orange and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma; D4.Agent Orange and Soft Tissue Sarcomas; D5.Agent Orange and Peripheral Neuropathy; D6.Agent Orange and Hodgkin's Disease; D7.Agent Orange and Porphyria Cutanea Tarda; D8.Agent Orange and Multiple Myeloma; D9.Agent Orange and Respiratory Cancers; D10.Agent Orange and Prostate Cancer; D11.Agent Orange and Spina Bifida; D12.Agent Orange and Diabetes; and D13.Agent Orange and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.
Also at the same Web site you will find copies of past and current issues of the "Agent Orange Review" newsletter and other items of interest.
This fact sheet was updated in late October 2003 and does not contain any subsequent developments.
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