University of Washington School of Public Health

UW SPH News: Agent Orange Report Leads to Policy Reversal

Agent Orange Report Leads to Policy Reversal


U.S. Air Force reservists who did not serve in Vietnam, but suffer from conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure, are now eligible for disability benefits, thanks in part to an Institute of Medicine report co-authored by Professor John Kissel of the Department of Environmental and Occupatoinal Health Sciences.

Previously, personnel who did not serve in Vietnam were presumed not to have been exposed to Agent Orange (and related chemicals) and hence not eligible for benefits. The reversal in policy was announced in June by the Department of Veterans Affairs and approved by the White House Office of Budget and Management.

The Institute of Medicine report found that reservists would have been exposed to potentially harmful residues of Agent Orange while they worked inside repatriated C-123 aircraft that had been used during the Vietnam War to spray millions of gallons of herbicides.

About 2,000 military reservists flew or worked in C-123 aircraft from 1969 to 1986. Before the IOM report, the VA had generally denied their disability claims.