What are the Agent Orange Acts (US)?

Introduction

The Agent Orange Acts is a collective term for a number of US Congress Bills and Acts that relate to Agent Orange, and include (not an exhaustive list):

TitleStatus
Veterans’ Agent Orange Exposure and Vietnam Service Benefits Act of 1989Passed Senate: 1989.
To require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to complete the study required by law of the long-term adverse health effects in humans of exposure to Agent Orange.Introduced: 1990.
A bill to exclude Agent Orange settlement payments from countable income and resources under Federal means-tested programmes.Public Law 101-201.
Veterans’ Compensation Amendments of 1991Introduced: 1991.
Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Increase and Agent Orange ActIntroduced: 1991.
To require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to complete the study required by law of the long-term adverse health effects in humans of exposure to Agent Orange.Introduced: 1991.
Agent Orange Act of 1991Public Law 102-4.
Veterans Health Programmes Extension Act of 1994Public Law 103-452.
A bill to provide that service connection for disabilities arising from exposure to ionising radiation or dioxin may be established by direct evidence.Introduced: 1994.
To amend title 38, United States Code, to codify the addition by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs of certain additional diseases to the list of diseases occurring in veterans that are considered to be service-connected.Introduced: 1994.
To amend title 38, United States Code, to extend for ten years the authority for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide priority health care to veterans who were exposed to ionsing radiation or to Agent Orange.Introduced: 1993.
Veterans’ Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996Public Law 104-262.
A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend the period of eligibility for inpatient care for veterans exposed to toxic substances, radiation, or environmental hazards, to extend the period of eligibility for outpatient care for veterans exposed to such substances or hazards during service in the Persian Gulf, and to expand the eligibility of veterans exposed to toxic substances or radiation for outpatient care.Introduced: 1995.
Agent Orange Benefits ActIntroduced: 1996.
To amend title 38, United States Code, to extend through 31 December 1997, the period during which the Secretary of Veterans Affairs is authorised to provide priority health care to certain veterans exposed to Agent Orange, ionising radiation, or environmental hazards.Introduced: 1996.
A bill to amend provisions of law governing benefits for certain children of Vietnam veterans who are born with spina bifida, and for other purposes.Introduced: 1997.
Veterans Education and Benefits Expansion Act of 2001Public Law 107-103.
Veterans’ Benefits Improvement ActIntroduced: 2001.
A bill to amend section 1116 of title 38, United States Code, to modify and extend authorities on the presumption of service-connection for herbicide-related disabilities of Vietnam era veterans, and for other purposes.Introduced: 2001.
To amend title 38, United States Code, to add Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2) to the list of diseases presumed to be service-connected for veterans exposed to certain herbicide agents.Introduced: 2000 and 2001.
Agent Orange Respiratory Cancer ActIntroduced: 2001.
Agent Orange Veterans’ Disabled Children’s Benefits ActIntroduced: 2003.
To amend title 38, United States Code, to add nasopharyngeal cancer to the statutorily prescribed presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange during military service in Vietnam.Introduced: 2005.
To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a presumption of service connection for certain cancers occurring in veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam and were exposed to certain herbicide agents, and for other purposes.Introduced: 2008.
Agent Orange Equitable Compensation ActIntroduced: 2007.
Civilian Agent Orange ActIntroduced: 2006 and 2007.
Thomas G. Schubert Agent Orange Fairness ActIntroduced: 2009.
Agent Orange Equity ActIntroduced: 2008, 2009, and 2011.
Victims of Agent Orange Relief ActIntroduced: 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021.
Veterans’ Toxic Wounds Research ActIntroduced: 2014.
Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support ActIntroduced: 2014.
A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend authorities for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to expand presumption of service connection for compensation for diseases the Secretary determines are associated with exposure to herbicide agents, and for other purposes.Introduced: 2015.
Agent Orange Extension Act of 2015Introduced: 2015.
Agent Orange Exposure Fairness ActIntroduced: 2018 and 2019.
To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the eligibility of children of Vietnam veterans born with spina bifida for benefits of the Department of Veterans Affairs.Introduced: 2016 and 2017.
Thailand Veteran Agent Orange Parity Act of 2018Introduced: 2018.
Expressing the sense of Congress that those who served in the bays, harbours, and territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on 09 January 1962 and ending on 07 May 1975, should be presumed to have served in the Republic of Vietnam for all purposes under the Agent Orange Act of 1991.Introduced: 2016 and 2017.
Encouraging the President to expand the list of the Department of Veterans Affairs of presumptive medical conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange to include Parkinsonism, bladder cancer, hypertension, and hypothyroidism.Introduced: 2019.
Expedite Agent Orange Coverage ActIntroduced: 2019.
Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019Public Law 116-23.
Veterans Agent Orange Exposure Equity ActIntroduced: 2021.
Agent Orange Service Medal ActIntroduced: 2021.
Lawrence J. Hackett, Jr., Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Fairness ActIntroduced: 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021.
Honouring Our PACT Act of 2022Public Law 117-168.

Status of a Bill

For simplicity a Bill can be categorised as:

  • Introduced.
  • Passed House.
  • Passed Senate.
  • To President.
  • Became Law (e.g. Public Law 117-168, Honouring Our PACT Act).

For further information on the US legislative process visit the US Congress website.

Bills may be dropped, amended, or tacked on to other bills.

A Brief History and Outline of Agent Orange

Agent Orange is a chemical herbicide and defoliant, one of the “tactical use” Rainbow Herbicides. It was used by the US military as part of its herbicidal warfare programme, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. It is a mixture of equal parts of two herbicides, 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D. In addition to its damaging environmental effects, traces of dioxin (mainly TCDD, the most toxic of its type) found in the mixture have caused major health problems for many individuals who were exposed, and their offspring.

Agent Orange was produced in the United States from the late 1940s and was used in industrial agriculture and was also sprayed along railroads and power lines to control undergrowth in forests. During the Vietnam War the US military procured over 20 million gallons consisting of a fifty-fifty mixture of 2,4-D and dioxin-contaminated 2,4,5-T. Nine chemical companies produced it: Dow Chemical Company, Monsanto Company, Diamond Shamrock Corporation, Hercules Inc., Thompson Hayward Chemical Co., United States Rubber Company (Uniroyal), Thompson Chemical Co., Hoffman-Taff Chemicals, Inc., and Agriselect.

The government of Vietnam says that up to four million people in Vietnam were exposed to the defoliant, and as many as three million people have suffered illness because of Agent Orange, while the Red Cross of Vietnam estimates that up to one million people were disabled or have health problems as a result of exposure to Agent Orange. The United States government has described these figures as unreliable, while documenting cases of leukaemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and various kinds of cancer in exposed US military veterans. An epidemiological study done by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention showed that there was an increase in the rate of birth defects of the children of military personnel as a result of Agent Orange. Agent Orange has also caused enormous environmental damage in Vietnam. Over 3,100,000 hectares (31,000 km2 or 11,969 mi2) of forest were defoliated. Defoliants eroded tree cover and seedling forest stock, making reforestation difficult in numerous areas. Animal species diversity is sharply reduced in contrast with unsprayed areas.

The use of Agent Orange in Vietnam resulted in numerous legal actions. The United Nations ratified United Nations General Assembly Resolution 31/72 and the Environmental Modification Convention. Lawsuits filed on behalf of both US and Vietnamese veterans sought compensation for damages.

Agent Orange was first used by the British Armed Forces in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency. It was also used by the US military in Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam War because forests near the border with Vietnam were used by the Viet Cong.

Veterans’ Agent Orange Exposure and Vietnam Service Benefits Act of 1989

Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to pay a monthly disability or death benefit to a veteran or his or her survivors for any disability or death of a veteran who served in the active forces in Vietnam during the Vietnam era and who suffered from non-Hodgkins lymphoma or a soft-tissue sarcoma. Provides an exception to the payment of such benefits when there is affirmative evidence that such disease was not incurred during such service in Vietnam or that there was an intervening disease since such service. Provides the rates for the payment of such disability or death benefit. Prohibits such payments when other disability compensation is being paid for such disability. Provides that such disabilities shall be treated as service-connected for the purposes of all laws administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (Department). Terminates such payments as of 15 April 1992, unless extended by a joint resolution of the Congress. Outlines congressional procedures for the consideration of such joint resolution. Requires the Secretary to take all reasonable actions necessary to notify eligible veterans and their survivors of the availability of such payments. Requires the Secretary to inform such recipients of the temporary nature of such payments.

Provides that the disease of chloracne in Vietnam veterans shall be considered to have been service-connected if such disease became manifest to a ten percent degree of disability or more within one year after the last date on which the veteran performed such service in Vietnam.

Provides a presumption of service-connection in the case of a Vietnam veteran suffering from a disease associated with effects of exposure to certain dioxins or other herbicide agents during such service in Vietnam. Directs the Secretary to prescribe regulations listing a positive association between any disease and the biological effects of exposure to a herbicide agent in Vietnam. Requires the Secretary to update such list continually. Requires the Secretary, in prescribing and revising such list, to obtain by contract the determinations and estimates of a contract scientific organisation. Requires such organisation to: (1) determine which diseases have any degree of association with the biological effects of exposure to a herbicide agent; and (2) estimate the extent of association between each such disease and each such biological effects. Requires the organisation to determine such association specifically with respect to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, each soft-tissue sarcoma, lung cancer, and each other cancer. Outlines contract provisions required in such agreements between the Secretary and the scientific organisation, including surveys, evaluations, and periodic determinations. Requires such scientific organisations to provide reports to the Secretary and the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees regarding its determinations and evaluations. Requires such organisation to determine, in the event of a positive association, whether there is a reasonable basis for concluding that a Vietnam veteran with the highest level of exposure to that herbicide agent in Vietnam was exposed to such agent under the circumstances necessary for such biological effects. Requires a report from the organisation to the Secretary and the veterans’ committees when no such reasonable basis is found. Requires the Secretary to make certain determinations and follow-up reports after receiving such reports from the contract scientific organisation, including the issuance of a report to the veterans’ committees and the promulgation of positive association regulations, if necessary. Requires benefits to be continued even though a disease is removed from the lists of diseases having positive associations. Terminates such contracting authority ten years after the first day of the fiscal year in which a scientific organisation transmits its first report to the Secretary. Provides interim regulations and special effective dates.

Directs the Secretary to compile and analyse all clinical data that: (1) are obtained by the Department in connection with examinations and treatment of veterans for disabilities related to exposure to certain herbicides or to service in Vietnam; and (2) are likely to be scientifically useful in determining the association, if any, between the disabilities of such veterans and their exposure to such herbicides and other toxic substances. Requires the Secretary to submit an annual report to the veterans’ committees concerning such analysis and its results. Directs the Secretary to consult with the Director of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) before compiling and analysing such information. Requires the Director of OTA to review each annual report submitted by the Secretary and transmit to the Secretary an evaluation of the contents of each report.

Directs the Secretary to establish and maintain a system for the collection and storage of voluntarily contributed samples of blood and tissue of veterans who performed active service in Vietnam during the Vietnam era. Outlines provisions concerning the security and authorised uses of such specimens, as well as limitations on the acceptance of such samples. Requires the Secretary to consult with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to the extent that an agreement has been reached with the NAS serving as the contract scientific organisation for the Secretary. Requires the Secretary to consult with the Director of OTA if no agreement is made with NAS.

Directs the Secretary to establish a programme to provide for the conduct of studies of the feasibility of conducting additional scientific research on health hazards resulting from: (1) exposure to dioxin; (2) exposure to other toxic agents in herbicides used in support of US and allied military operations in Vietnam during the Vietnam era; and (3) active military, naval, or air service there. Requires the Secretary to report to the veterans’ committees on the results of such studies. Requires the Secretary to consult with NAS before undertaking such studies and requires NAS to review such studies and report recommendations to the Secretary and the veterans’ committees to the extent provided under any agreement between the Secretary and NAS.

Amends the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 1988 to require the Secretary to annually furnish updated information to individuals listed in the Department of Veterans Affairs Agent Orange Registry on health risks resulting from exposure to dioxin or other toxic agents in herbicides as a result of service in Vietnam during the Vietnam era.

Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report to the veterans’ committees on the research being conducted to develop treatments for psychological absorption of dioxin and other toxic agents used in herbicides by the United States in Vietnam, including research relating to exposure to dioxin and other toxic agents outside Vietnam.

Extends through 31 December 1993, the eligibility for hospital and nursing home care for veterans exposed to toxic substances in Vietnam.

Amends the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 1988 to authorise direct consultation between the Ranch Hand Advisory Committee and Department of the Air Force scientists conducting the Ranch Hand Study (a study of the long-term health effects of exposure to phenoxy herbicides and contaminants). Requires the preparation and submission of annual reports and a final report in connection with such study.

A bill to exclude Agent Orange settlement payments from countable income and resources under Federal means-tested programmes

Excludes Agent Orange settlement payments from income or resources in determining eligibility for benefits under any Federal or federally assisted programme.

Veterans’ Compensation Amendments of 1991

Title III: Agent Orange – Veterans Agent Orange Exposure and Vietnam Service Benefits Act of 1991 – Provides that the disease of chloracne in Vietnam veterans shall be considered to have been service-connected if such disease became manifest to a ten percent or more degree of disability within one year after the last date on which the veteran performed such service in Vietnam. Presumes the following diseases to be service-connected for veterans who performed active service in Vietnam during the Vietnam era, notwithstanding that there is no record of evidence of such disease during the period of such service: (1) non-Hodgkins lymphoma; and (2) soft-tissue sarcoma.

Provides a presumption of service-connection in the case of a Vietnam veteran suffering from a disease associated with effects of exposure to certain dioxins or other herbicide agents during such service in Vietnam. Directs the Secretary to prescribe regulations listing a positive association between any disease and the biological effects of exposure to a herbicide agent in Vietnam. Requires the Secretary to update such list continually. Requires the Secretary, in prescribing and revising such list, to obtain by contract the determinations and estimates of a contract scientific organisation. Requires such organisation to: (1) determine which diseases have any degree of association with the biological effects of exposure to an herbicide agent; and (2) estimate the extent of association between each such disease and each such biological effect. Requires the organisation to determine such association specifically with respect to lung cancer and each other cancer. Outlines contract provisions required in such agreements between the Secretary and the scientific organisation, including surveys, evaluations, and periodic determinations. Requires such scientific organisation to provide reports to the Secretary and the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees regarding its determinations and evaluations. Requires such organisation to determine, in the case of a positive association, whether there is a reasonable basis for concluding that a Vietnam veteran with the highest level of exposure to that herbicide agent in Vietnam was exposed to such agent under the circumstances necessary for such biological effects. Requires a report from the organisation to the Secretary and the veterans’ committees when there is no such reasonable basis found. Requires the Secretary to make certain determinations and follow-up reports after receiving such reports from the contract scientific organisation, including the issuance of a report to the veterans’ committees and the promulgation of positive associations regulations if necessary. Requires benefits to be continued even though a disease is removed from the regulations listing diseases having positive associations. Provides special effective dates.

Directs the Secretary to compile and analyse all clinical data that: (1) is obtained by the Department in connection with examinations and treatment of veterans for disabilities related to exposure to certain herbicides or to service in Vietnam; and (2) is likely to be scientifically useful in determining the association, if any, between the disabilities of such veterans and their exposure to such herbicides and other toxic substances. Requires the Secretary to submit an annual report to the veterans’ committees concerning such analysis and its results. Directs the Secretary to consult with the Director of the National Institutes of Health Research and Grants Division (NIH) before compiling and analysing such information. Requires the Director of NIH to review each annual report submitted by the Secretary and transmit to the Secretary an evaluation of the contents of each report.

Directs the Secretary to establish and maintain a system for the collection and storage of voluntarily contributed samples of blood and tissue of veterans who performed active service in Vietnam during the Vietnam era. Outlines provisions concerning the security and authorised uses of such specimens, as well as limitations on the acceptance of such samples. Requires the Secretary to consult with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to the extent that an agreement has been reached with NAS serving as the contract scientific organisation for the Secretary. Requires the Secretary to consult with the Director of the Medical Follow-up Agency in the event of no agreement with NAS.

Directs the Secretary to establish a programme to provide for the conduct of studies of the feasibility of conducting additional scientific research on health hazards resulting from: (1) exposure to dioxin; (2) exposure to other toxic agents in herbicides used in support of US and allied military operations in Vietnam during the Vietnam era; and (3) active military, naval, or air service there. Requires the Secretary to report to the veterans’ committees on the results of such studies. Requires the Secretary to consult with NAS before undertaking such studies and requires NAS to review such studies and report recommendations to the Secretary and the veterans’ committees, to the extent provided under any agreement between the Secretary and NAS.

Amends the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 1988 to require the Secretary to annually furnish updated information to veterans listed in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Agent Orange Registry on health risks resulting from exposure to dioxin or other toxic agents in herbicides as a result of service in Vietnam during the Vietnam era.

Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report to the veterans’ committees on the research being conducted to develop treatments for physiological absorption of dioxin and other toxic agents used in herbicides by the United States in Vietnam, including research relating to exposure to dioxin and other toxic agents outside Vietnam.

Extends through 31 December 2000, the eligibility for hospital and nursing home care for veterans exposed to toxic substances in Vietnam.

Amends the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 1988 to authorise direct consultation between the Ranch Hand Advisory Committee and Department of the Air Force scientists conducting the Ranch Hand Study (a study of the long-term health effects of exposure to phenoxy herbicides and contaminants). Requires the preparation and submission of annual reports and a final report in connection with such study.

Requires the Secretary, upon the request of any Vietnam era veteran who was exposed to dioxins during such service and who has either applied for Department medical care or has filed a claim for, or is in receipt of, veterans’ disability compensation, to obtain a blood sample from such veteran to test for the level of a specified dioxin. Requires the Secretary to notify the veteran of test results regarding the likelihood of the veteran’s exposure to such dioxin while serving in Vietnam.

Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Increase and Agent Orange Act of 1991

Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Increase and Agent Orange Act of 1991 – Title I: Compensation Rate Increases – Increases the rates of veterans’ disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.

Title II: Agent Orange Exposure and Vietnam Service – States that the following diseases will be presumed to be service-connected for purposes of eligibility for veterans’ disability compensation, if they become manifest to a degree of disability of ten-percent or more in a veteran who served on active duty in Vietnam during the Vietnam era: (1) non-Hodgkins lymphoma; (2) each soft-tissue sarcoma, with specified exceptions; and (3) chloracne, if it becomes manifest to such degree within one year after the last date the veteran performed active duty in Vietnam.

Provides that, in the case of a Vietnam veteran exposed to certain dioxins or other herbicide agents during service in Vietnam, specified diseases listed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and identified as having a positive association with the biological effects of exposure to such herbicide agent shall be considered to have been incurred in or aggravated by such service, even though there is no record of such disease having occurred during such service. Presumes that Vietnam veterans having such disease were exposed to such dioxin or herbicide during their Vietnam service, unless there is affirmative evidence to the contrary. Authorizes the Secretary to extend the applicability of this section to those exposed to the same type of dioxins or herbicides outside of Vietnam while on active duty.

Provides a presumption of service-connection in the case of a Vietnam veteran suffering from a disease associated with effects of exposure to certain dioxins or other herbicide agents during such service in Vietnam. Directs the Secretary to prescribe regulations listing a positive association between any disease and the biological effects of exposure to an herbicide agent in Vietnam. Requires the Secretary, in prescribing and revising such list, to obtain by contract the determinations and estimates of a contract scientific organisation. Requires such organisation to: (1) determine which diseases have any degree of association with the biological effects of exposure to a herbicide agent; and (2) estimate the extent of association between each such disease and each such biological effect. Requires the organization to determine such association specifically with respect to lung cancer and each other cancer. Outlines contract provisions required in such agreements between the Secretary and the scientific organisation, including surveys, evaluations, and periodic determinations. Requires such scientific organisations to provide reports to the Secretary and the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees regarding their determinations and evaluations. Requires such organisation to determine, in the event of a positive association, whether there is a reasonable basis for concluding that a Vietnam veteran with the highest level of exposure to that herbicide agent in Vietnam was exposed to such agent under the circumstances necessary for such biological effects. Requires a report from the organisation to the Secretary and the veterans’ committees when there is no such reasonable basis found. Requires the Secretary to make certain determinations and follow-up reports after receiving such reports from the contract scientific organisation, including the issuance of a report to the veterans’ committees and the promulgation of positive association regulations, if necessary. Requires benefits to be continued even though a disease is removed from the regulations listing diseases having positive associations. Terminates such contracting authority ten years after the first day of the fiscal year in which a scientific organisation transmits its first report to the Secretary. Provides interim regulations and special effective dates.

Directs the Secretary to compile and analyse all clinical data that: (1) are obtained by the Department in connection with examinations and treatment of veterans for disabilities related to exposure to certain herbicides or to service in Vietnam; and (2) are likely to be scientifically useful in determining the association, if any, between the disabilities of such veterans and their exposure to such herbicides and other toxic substances. Requires the Secretary to submit an annual report to the veterans’ committees concerning such analysis and its results. Directs the Secretary to consult with the Director of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) before compiling and analysing such information. Requires the Director of OTA to review each annual report submitted by the Secretary and transmit to the Secretary an evaluation of the contents of each report.

Directs the Secretary to establish and maintain a system for the collection and storage of voluntarily contributed samples of blood and tissue of veterans who performed active service in Vietnam during the Vietnam era. Outlines provisions concerning the security and authorised uses of such specimens, as well as limitations on the acceptance of such samples. Requires the Secretary to consult with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to the extent that an agreement has been reached with the NAS serving as the contract scientific organisation for the Secretary. Requires the Secretary to consult with the Director of OTA in the event of no agreement with NAS.

Directs the Secretary to establish a programme to provide for the conduct of studies of the feasibility of conducting additional scientific research on health hazards resulting from: (1) exposure to dioxin; (2) exposure to other toxic agents in herbicides used in support of US and allied military operations in Vietnam during the Vietnam era; and (3) active military, naval, or air service there. Requires the Secretary to report to the veterans’ committees on the results of such studies. Requires the Secretary to consult with the NAS before undertaking such studies and requires the NAS to review such studies and report recommendations to the Secretary and the veterans’ committees, to the extent provided under any agreement between the Secretary and the NAS.

Amends the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 1988 to require the Secretary to annually furnish updated information listed in the Department of Veterans Affairs Agent Orange Registry on health risks resulting from exposure to dioxin or other toxic agents in herbicides as a result of service in Vietnam during the Vietnam era.

Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report to the veterans’ committees on the research being conducted to develop treatments for physiological absorption of dioxin and other toxic agents used in herbicides by the United States in Vietnam, including research relating to exposure to dioxin and other toxic agents outside Vietnam.

Extends through 31 December 1993, the eligibility for hospital and nursing home care for veterans exposed to toxic substances in Vietnam.

Agent Orange Act of 1991

An Act to provide for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to obtain independent scientific review of the available scientific evidence regarding associations between diseases and exposure to dioxin and other chemical compounds in herbicides, and for other purposes.

Agent Orange Act of 1991 establishes provisions for the National Academy of Sciences to analyse and summarise scientific evidence regarding presumptive military service exposure to defoliants, dioxins, and herbicides, better known as Agent Orange, during the Vietnam War era. The United States Statute endorses an observation of human medical conditions directly related to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, soft-tissue sarcoma, chloracne, and consistent acneform diseases for military personnel who served in the overseas Vietnamese region. The Act of Congress ratifies a medical research compilation of voluntarily contributed blood and tissue samples provided by Vietnam-era veterans serving in Southeast Asia between 1961 and 1975.

The H.R. 556 legislation was passed by the 102nd United States Congressional session and enacted into law by the 41st President of the United States George H. W. Bush on 06 February 1991.

Brief History

Agent Orange Study of 1979

On 06 December 1979, the 96th United States Congress passed H.R. 3892, better known as Veterans Health Programmes Extension and Improvement Act of 1979. The Title 38 amendment, better known as Title III: Veterans’ Administration Medical Personnel Amendments and Miscellaneous Provisions, was enacted into law by the 39th President of the United States Jimmy Carter on 20 December 1979. House Bill 3892 endorsed the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct an epidemiological study concerning human exposure and the adverse health effects of dioxins and phenoxy herbicides. The persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances protocol was subject to approval by the Office of Technology Assessment as stated in the provisions of the H.R. 3892 legislation.

The 96th United States Senate passed bill S. 2096 sanctioning the Agent Orange study to be conducted by the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. On 02 January 1980, President Jimmy Carter vetoed the Senate bill due to the repetitive purpose of the Section 307a1 provisions as stated in House bill 3892.

Title 38 Amendments and Associated Statutes

Date of EnactmentPublic Law NumberUS Statute CitationUS Legislative BillUS Presidential Administration
20 December 197996-15193 Stat. 1092H.R. 3892Jimmy Carter
03 November 198197-7295 Stat. 1047H.R. 3499Ronald Reagan
24 October 198498-54298 Stat. 2725H.R. 1961Ronald Reagan
06 December 1989101-201103 Stat. 1795S. 892George H.W. Bush
18 December 1989101-237103 Stat. 2062H.R. 901George H.W. Bush
02 November 1994103-452108 Stat. 4783H.R. 3313William J. Clinton

Veterans Health Programmes Extension Act of 1994

(Sec. 103) Extends for an additional year the authority: (1) to provide priority health care to veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service; (2) for a pilot programme for noninstitutional alternatives to nursing home care; (3) of the Secretary to enter into enhanced-use leases of real property; (4) for community-based residential care for homeless chronically mentally ill veterans and other veterans under the Veterans’ Benefits and Services Act of 1988; and (5) for a demonstration programme of compensated work therapy and therapeutic transitional housing for certain veterans. Amends the Department of Veterans Affairs Nurse Pay Act of 1990 to extend until 01 February 1995, the deadline of a required report on the findings of a study concerning noninstitutional alternatives to nursing home care.

Veterans’ Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996

(Sec. 102) Makes a Vietnam-era herbicide-exposed veteran eligible for hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for any disability, notwithstanding that there is insufficient medical evidence that such disability may be associated with such exposure. Makes a radiation-exposed veteran eligible for such care and services for: (1) any disease currently listed in Federal provisions which presume a relation between such disease and a veteran’s disability; or (2) any disease for which the Secretary determines there is credible evidence of a positive association between the occurrence of such disease and exposure to ionising radiation. Provides exceptions from such coverage.

Agent Orange Benefits Act

Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide needed health care to a child of a Vietnam veteran who is suffering from spina bifida, for any associated disability. Authorises the Secretary to provide such health care directly or by contract or other arrangement with a health care provider. Includes within such care home, hospital, nursing home, outpatient, preventive, and rehabilitative care, case management, respite care, the training of family members in the provision of necessary home care, and necessary pharmaceuticals, supplies, and equipment.

Authorises the Secretary to provide vocational training to such a child if the Secretary determines that the achievement of a vocational goal by such child is reasonably feasible. Limits such training to 24 months, unless the Secretary determines that an extension is necessary (up to 24 months). Requires a child eligible for more than one assistance programme through the Department of Veterans Affairs to elect one program for participation.

Directs the Secretary to pay a monetary allowance to any such child for any disability resulting from spina bifida based on the degree of disability. Requires an increase in such disability benefit whenever there is an increase in benefits payable under title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act.

Provides veterans’ disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation for the additional disability or death of a veteran which was: (1) not the result of the veteran’s own wilful misconduct; (2) incurred by care, treatment, or examination furnished to the veteran through the Department; and (3) incurred as a proximate result of such care, treatment, or examination.

Veterans Education and Benefits Expansion Act of 2001

Title II: Compensation and Pension Matters – Repeals the 30-year manifestation period limitation, following service in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam conflict, required for veterans’ disability benefits coverage for certain respiratory cancers. Extends the period for the presumption of a service connection between certain herbicide-related disabilities and service in Vietnam to 20 years (currently ten) after the National Academy of Sciences transmits to the Secretary its first report required under the Agent Orange Act of 1991 containing medical analyses and information with respect to such disabilities and their relation to such service.

Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act

Title II: Compensation and Pension Matters – Extends the period for the presumption of a service connection between certain herbicide-related disabilities and service in Vietnam to 20 years (currently ten) after the National Academy of Sciences transmits to the Secretary its first report required under the Agent Orange Act of 1991 containing medical analyses and information with respect to such disabilities and their relation to such service.

Agent Orange Respiratory Cancer Act

Repeals the requirement that, in order to be considered service-connected and, therefore, compensable under veterans’ disability compensation, respiratory cancers must have become manifest in a veteran within 30 years after the last date on which the veteran performed active military service in the Republic of Vietnam.

Agent Orange Veterans’ Disabled Children’s Benefits Act

Provides health care, vocational training and rehabilitation, and a monthly disability allowance through the Department of Veterans Affairs to the natural child of a parent who performed qualifying herbicide-risk service (active military service in an area in which a Vietnam-era herbicide agent was used or service during which the parent was otherwise exposed to such agent) if such child was conceived after such service and suffers from spina bifida. (Currently, such benefits are authorised only for the spina bifida care of a Vietnam veteran’s natural child conceived after the veteran first entered the Republic of Vietnam.)

Agent Orange Equitable Compensation Act

States that awards of veterans’ disability compensation based on a presumption of service-connection due to exposure to certain herbicide agents during service in Vietnam (Agent Orange compensation) shall not be effective earlier than the effective date of the regulation establishing such presumption.

States that, for purposes of such presumption, a veteran will be considered to have served in Vietnam only if the veteran was physically present on land in Vietnam or on its inland waterways, and not if the veteran served only on the waters offshore or in airspace above.

Civilian Agent Orange Act

Establishes the: (1) Agent Orange Illness Compensation Programme to provide compensation for federal employees or employees of contractors of the Department of Defence (DOD) who contracted an Agent Orange illness while employed during the Vietnam conflict and suffered injury or death by reason of that illness; and (2) Agent Orange Illness Compensation Fund to make such payments. Fixes the compensation amount at $100,000, payable either to the employee or his or her eligible survivor. Offsets such payment by any payment made on a claim based on the same illness, injury, or death on account of exposure to Agent Orange herbicides.

Thomas G. Schubert Agent Orange Fairness Act

Presumes to be service-connected, and therefore compensable through veterans’ disability compensation, cancers of any tissues through the opening of the gastrointestinal tract to the end, becoming manifest to a degree of disability of 10% or more.

Agent Orange Equity Act

To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes.

The Act includes as part of the Republic of Vietnam, for purposes of the presumption of service connection for diseases associated with exposure by veterans to certain herbicide agents while in Vietnam, such Republic’s inland waterways, ports, harbours, waters offshore, and airspace.

Includes as veterans eligible for such presumption those who:

  • Served on Johnston Island during the period beginning on 01 April 1972 and ending on 30 September 1977; or
  • Received the Vietnam Service Medal or the Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2013

The Act directed the Departments of Veterans Affairs, State and Health and Human Services to provide medical services and resources to affected communities, including those still living in contaminated environments, and the descendants of exposed veterans and Vietnamese Americans. The legislation also includes provisions for future research into the impact of Agent Orange exposure.

The Act defines a “covered individual” as a Vietnam resident who is affected by health issues related to Agent Orange exposure which took place between 01 January 1961 and 07 May 1975, or who lives or had lived in or near geographic areas in Vietnam that continue to contain high levels of Agent Orange, or who is affected by such health issues as the child or descendant of such resident.

Directs the Secretary of State to provide assistance:

  • To address the health care needs of covered individuals;
  • To institutions in Vietnam that provide health care to such individuals;
  • To repair and rebuild substandard homes in Vietnam for covered individuals and their families; and
  • To remediate geographic areas of Vietnam that contain high levels of Agent Orange.

Directs the Secretary and the Secretary of VA to provide assistance to support research relating to health issues of individuals affected by Agent Orange.

Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to:

  • Make grants to appropriate public health organisations and Vietnamese-American organisations to conduct a broad health assessment of Vietnamese-Americans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange and their children or descendants; and
  • Establish centres in US locations where large populations of Vietnamese-Americans reside to provide assessment, counselling, and treatment for conditions related to Agent Orange exposure.

Amends veterans benefits provisions to provide benefits to the children of male (currently only female) Vietnam veterans who are affected by certain birth defects. Requires the VA Secretary to require any health care provider with whom the Secretary enters into a contract for the provision of health care to such children to provide the VA access to the medical records of such children for research into the intergenerational effects of Agent Orange exposure.

The former Representative Bob Filner previously introduced the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act as H.R. 2634 in the 112th Congress. Congresswoman Barbara Lee reintroduced the legislation in the 113th Congress order to ensure that the victims of Agent Orange receive medical services and resources.

Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support Act of 2014

Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to:

  • Select a medical centre in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to serve as the national centre (Centre) for the diagnosis, treatment, and research of health conditions of descendants (i.e. a biological child, grandchild, or great-grandchild) of individuals exposed to toxic substances while serving as members of the Armed Forces that are related to that exposure;
  • Establish an advisory board to advise the centre, to determine which health conditions result from exposure to toxic substances, and to study and evaluate cases of exposure of current and former members of the Armed Forces to toxic substances; and
  • Establish an Office of Extramural Research to conduct research on wounds, illnesses, injuries, and other conditions suffered by active members of the Armed Forces resulting from exposure to toxic substances and to assist the Advisory Board in considering claims of exposure to toxic substances.

Requires the Centre, in coordination with the National Birth Defect Registry, to track and research the genetic link between individuals who are exposed to Agent Orange and the medical conditions of their children.

Extends eligibility for medical care and caregiver assistance to descendants of a veteran who was exposed to toxic substances while serving as a member of the Armed Forces if: (1) the descendant has a health condition resulting from exposure to toxic substances and is homebound due to such condition, and (2) the veteran has or had the same health condition.

Authorizes the Secretary of Defence (DOD) to declassify documents (other than documents that would materially and immediately threaten national security) related to any known incident in which not less than 100 members of the Armed Forces were exposed to a toxic substance that resulted in at least one case of disability.

Directs the VA Secretary, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the DOD Secretary to jointly conduct a national outreach and education campaign directed at members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their family members to communicate information on incidents of exposure to toxic substances, health conditions resulting form such exposure, and the potential long-term effects of such exposure.

Veterans’ Toxic Wounds Research Act of 2014

Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a master registry of veterans who experienced toxic exposures while serving in the Armed Forces. Includes in the master registry the registries for:

  • Agent Orange;
  • Exposure to toxins relating to a deployment during the Persian Gulf War;
  • Exposure to toxins relating to a deployment during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Enduring Freedom, or the Global War on Terror;
  • Exposure to toxins relating to a deployment to Bosnia, Somalia, or the Philippines; and
  • Exposure to toxins relating to being stationed at a military installation potentially contaminated by toxic substances.

Directs the Secretary to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review published scientific information and studies, and make recommendations for future research, on the health effects: (1) of the toxic exposures covered in those registries, and (2) on the children and grandchildren of veterans who had a toxic exposure covered in those registries. Requires those reviews to inform the Secretary’s selection of research to be conducted or funded by the VA.

Establishes a presumption of a service connection, for the purpose of veterans’ disability and survivor benefits, for an illness that:

  • The Secretary determines warrants such a presumption by reason of having a positive association with exposure to a toxic substance covered in the master registry; and
  • Becomes manifest, within the period the Secretary prescribes, in a veteran who experienced such exposure while serving in the Armed Forces.

Requires the Secretary’s service connection determinations to be based on sound medical and scientific evidence that a positive association exists between: (1) the exposure of humans or animals to a toxic substance covered in the master registry, and (2) the occurrence of a diagnosed or undiagnosed illness in humans or animals.

Directs the Secretary, in implementing the VA’s electronic health record system, to include specified information in each individual’s electronic health record, including whether the individual served in the Armed Forces and, if so, the locations and dates of such service.

Agent Orange Extension Act of 2015

This bill extends for two years the Department of VA presumption of service connection for diseases associated with exposure to certain herbicides, including Agent Orange, with respect to veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam between 09 January 1962 and 07 May 1975.

The Agent Orange Act of 1991 is amended to extend for two years the authority of the VA to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate the scientific evidence regarding associations between diseases and exposure to dioxin and other chemical compounds in herbicides, including the association between exposure to a herbicide used in U.S. and allied military operations in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam era and each disease suspected to be associated with such exposure.

Thailand Veteran Agent Orange Parity Act of 2018

The Department of Veterans Affairs may provide to any spina bifida-affected child of a veteran who served on active duty in Thailand beginning on 09 January 1962 and ending on 07 May 1975, and who was exposed to a herbicide agent during such service, the same health care, vocational training and rehabilitation, and monetary allowance required to be paid to a similarly affected child of a Vietnam veteran. (The bill extends the presumption of service connection for certain diseases associated with herbicide exposure to such veterans, thus permitting health care benefits and disability compensation to be provided to their children.)

Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act of 2019

This bill expands eligibility for a presumption of service-connection for veterans exposed to certain herbicide agents (e.g., Agent Orange) during military service in Vietnam. Specifically, the bill removes the manifestation period required for the presumption of service-connection for chloracne and porphyria cutanea tarda.

Additionally, the bill provides statutory authority for a presumption of service-connection for certain cases of acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy without a manifestation period.

Under a presumption of service-connection, specific disabilities diagnosed in certain veterans are presumed to have been caused by the circumstances of their military service. Health care benefits and disability compensation may then be awarded.

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019

This bill extends the presumption of service-connection for certain diseases associated with herbicide (e.g., Agent Orange) exposure to veterans who served (1) offshore of Vietnam between 09 January 1962 and 07 May 1975, or (2) in or near the Korean Demilitarised Zone between 01 September 1967 and 31 August 1971. Under a presumption of service-connection, specific disabilities or diseases diagnosed in certain veterans are presumed to have been caused by the circumstances of their military service. Health care benefits and disability compensation may then be awarded.

The bill extends eligibility for health care, vocational training and rehabilitation, and monetary allowance to children with spina bifida who have at least one veteran parent who may have been exposed to an herbicide agent while serving in Thailand between 09 January 1962 and 07 May 1975.

The Department of Veterans Affairs must report on the Follow-up Study of a National Cohort of Gulf War and Gulf War Era Veterans.

Fairly Assessing Service-related Toxic Exposure Residuals Presumptions Act or the FASTER Presumptions Act

This bill revises policies and procedures of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) related to establishing or modifying presumptions of service-connection based on toxic exposure. The bill sets up a procedure by which the VA must determine whether to establish, remove, or modify via regulations presumptions of service-connection based on toxic exposure.

Specifically, the bill establishes within the VA the Formal Advisory Committee on Toxic Exposure, the Science Review Board, and the Working Group to assist with the various procedures in establishing or removing presumptions of service-connection. Such procedures include assessing the exposure of veterans to toxic substances during active service, evaluating research on the health effects of exposure, and making recommendations based on the evidence and research.

The bill also establishes the Expert Advisory Panel on Constrictive Bronchiolitis within the VA to develop guidelines for VA research on symptomatic veterans who served on active duty in the Southwest Asia theater of operations and have bronchiolitis.

The Department of Defense must develop and implement a plan to strengthen data collection with respect to members of the Armed Forces (including the reserve components) who are exposed to toxic substances while serving.

The VA must initiate or sponsor various studies related to veterans who served on active duty in certain locations.

Finally, the VA must provide annual training to relevant employees to improve the handling of claims for compensation and benefits that relate to toxic exposure.

Lawrence J. Hackett, Jr., Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Fairness Act

This bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a task force to make recommendations about the care and compensation that should be provided to veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange, their spouses, and multiple generations of their offspring.

Veterans Agent Orange Exposure Equity Act of 2021

This bill expands the presumption of service-connection for diseases associated with exposure to certain herbicide agents for veterans who served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975. Under a presumption of service-connection, specific conditions diagnosed in certain veterans are presumed to have been caused by the circumstances of their military service. Health care benefits and disability compensation may then be awarded.

Specifically, the bill expands the presumption to cover veterans who served

  • In Thailand at a US Army base or Royal Thai Air Force base between 09 January 1962 and 07 May 1975;
  • At the Royal Thai Army Replacement Training Center, Pranburi Military Reservation between 01 January 1964 and 30 April 1964;
  • In Laos between 01 December 1965 and 30 September 1969; or
  • In Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kompon Cham Province between 16 April 1969 and 30 April 1969.

Agent Orange Service Medal Act of 2021

This bill requires the Department of Defence (DOD) to design and produce the Agent Orange Veterans Service Medal to honour veterans who receive compensation for service-connected conditions related to their service in Vietnam or offshore of Vietnam between 09 January 1962 and 07 May 1975. DOD must prepare and distribute an application for veterans or their next of kin to apply to receive the medal.

Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2021

Honouring Our PACT Act of 2022

Full title Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honouring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022; short title Honouring Our PACT Act of 2022, although sometimes referred to as Agent Orange Act of 2022.

This Act addressed health care, presumption of service-connection, research, resources, and other matters related to veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during military service.

With regard to Agent Orange, Vietnam service and veterans (etc.), the Act specified the VA must:

  • Conceding Our Veterans’ Exposure Now and Necessitating Training Act of 2022 or the COVENANT Act of 2022:
    • (Sec. 103) Provide eligibility for VA medical care, including mental health services and counselling, to veterans who (1) participated in a toxic exposure risk activity (e.g., a qualifying activity that requires a corresponding entry in an exposure tracking record system, such as the Individual Longitudinal Exposure Record); (2) served in specified locations on specified dates; or (3) deployed in support of a specified contingency operation.
    • (Sec. 104) Complete an assessment to determine (1) the personnel and material resources necessary to implement the expanded provision of care to the veterans specified in Section 103 of this bill (e.g. veterans who participated in a toxic exposure risk activity), and (2) the total number of veterans who served in specified locations on specified dates and receive hospital care or medical services from the VA, disaggregated by priority group.
  • Toxic Exposure in the American Military Act of 2022 or the TEAM Act of 2022:
    • (Sec. 202) This section prescribes the procedures for establishing or removing presumptions of service-connection based on toxic exposure, including by providing for public notice and comment periods and the establishment of a working group to advise and make recommendations regarding toxic exposures during military service.
    • (Sec. 203) The VA must conduct outreach to certain claimants when a law establishes or modifies a presumption of service-connection. Specifically, the VA must identify and conduct outreach for all claims for compensation for a service-connected disability that (1) were submitted to the VA, (2) were evaluated and denied before the new law went into effect, and (3) might have been evaluated differently if the modification had been applicable to the claim.
    • (Sec. 204) The VA must conduct outreach to certain claimants when a law establishes or modifies a presumption of service-connection in relation to dependency and indemnity compensation. Specifically, the VA must identify and conduct outreach for all claims for dependency and indemnity compensation related to service-connected conditions that (1) were submitted to the VA, (2) were evaluated and denied before the new law went into effect, and (3) might have been evaluated differently if the modification had been applicable to the claim.
  • Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act of 2022:
    • (Sec. 302) This section establishes a presumption that veterans were exposed to certain substances, chemicals, and airborne hazards during military service in specified locations in specified time frames (e.g., on or after August 2, 1990, in Bahrain).
    • (Sec. 303) The VA must provide a veteran with a medical examination regarding the nexus between a disability and toxic exposure risk activity if a veteran submits a disability compensation claim for a service-connected disability with insufficient evidence.
  • Veterans Agent Orange Exposure Equity Act of 2022;
    • (Sec. 403) This section expands the presumption of service-connection for diseases associated with exposure to certain herbicide agents for veterans who served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975. Specifically, the bill expands the presumption to cover veterans who served during specified time frames in Thailand at any U.S. or Royal Thai bases, Laos, Cambodia, Guam or American Samoa or the waters thereof, or on Johnson Atoll. Under the bill, such veterans are eligible for VA hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care.
  • Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act of 2022:
    • (Sec. 404) This section provides a presumption of service-connection for hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) for veterans who performed service specified in Section 403 of this bill (e.g., in Thailand).
    • (Sec. 405) This section addresses disability compensation and care issues for Persian Gulf War veterans, including by expanding who qualifies as a Persian Gulf Veteran.

This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia articles < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_Orange_Act_of_1991 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_Orange >; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.

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