This was posted on the MM listserv at acor.org. I wanted to pass it on, because I know there are many out there who are not on the list.
Just a heads up to anyone who served in Viet Nam during that conflict or
Korea during 1968-69. The military has admitted to spraying Agent Orange in
those two locations and if a person has Multiple Myeloma and was in Viet
Nam, they are “presumptively eligible” for VA disability compensation. In
other words, the military has acknowledged that the link between exposure to
Agent Orange and a person contracting Multiple Myeloma (even 35 years
later!) is strong enough that they will generally not contest a filing for
benefits. If you were in Korea during 1968-69, and were on or near the DMZ,
then there is also a very good chance of getting disability benefits.
These can be as high as $2,500 per month or more, depending on what
secondary conditions one might have (including Peripheral Neuropathy,
depression, sleep apnea, erectile dysfunction and being “homebound”, to name
a few). THESE BENEFITS ARE NON TAXABLE AND ARE IN ADDITION TO ANYTHING ONE
MIGHT GET FROM SOCIAL SECURITY. In many instances, if a person is found to
be a disabled vet, their property taxes and vehicle license fees are waived
(this is on a state by state basis). Generally the VA will also provide
full medical and dental for the vet and dependents, access to the
commissary, and educational benefits for the dependent spouse or children
under age 26.
Before applying to the VA for these benefits, you are well advised to seek
the counsel of a service officer at one of the following organizations, who
can represent you, and ensure that your documents are not “lost” after
Viet Nam Veterans of America (VVA)
Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
The VVA was very helpful to me, even though I served in Korea. Last week I
received an award letter stating that I was 100% disabled due to multiple
myeloma, and another 90% disabled due to various secondary conditions.
While you can only draw benefits at the 100% level, some of the conditions
qualify for what is known as Special Monthly Compensation (SMC), which
raises the compensation to a dollar amount greater than the 100% disability
rating. You can also increase the compensation if you can show that your
spouse is a dependent (+$125).
There are other conflicts where the VA has recognized certain conditions
were caused by the environment of the conflict, including World War II, some
of the testing areas at US bases, and the Gulf Wars (I and II). If you
think you MIGHT qualify, it is certainly worth an inquiry. The veterans
organizations listed above are usually co-located with the VA Regional
Offices and can provide good insight. BEWARE, the Korean connection is
recent, and some offices are not well informed regarding that. If you were
in Korea, on or near the DMZ in 1968 or 1969, do NOT take no for an answer.
The internal directives are clear that these cases shall be given priority
processing and attention.
Just wanted to post this info, as it is little known, and a potentially
tremendous resource to a few of us.