Denied. That has to be the scariest word for many disabled veterans after filing a claim for disability benefits. Unfortunately, appealing that denial could take your lifetime.

Recently, five veterans were denied a right to appeal in the Federal Circuit, the highest court before the Supreme Court for these claims. These five veterans filed an appeal back in 1979 based on the Veterans Administration publication regulating Agent Orange (AO) disability compensation. In its opinion, the Circuit said that it lacked the appropriate jurisdiction over the Administrative Agency because no one had jurisdiction over it prior to 1988. In a bit of a loophole, the guidelines used by the VA at that time were unpublished, which aided the VA’s claim that there was no oversight when the decision was first made.

The issue the veterans were appealing was the basic denial of the VA of all conditions that resulted from AO exposure other than “chloracne.” Chloracne is a type of skin deformity caused by exposure to certain toxic chemicals. This was the position mandated by the VA at that time:

“Except for a skin condition known as chloracne, there are presently no firm data to incriminate herbicides as causative agents of any other known category of disease or chronic symptom. However, a contaminant Dioxin, found in small quantities in defoliants is toxic.”

The actual list of disorders resulting from AO exposure ranges from cancer to birth defects to Parkinson’s disease. Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. dumped at least 20 million gallons of Agent Orange type herbicides into Vietnam and surrounding areas. Anyone exposed to the chemicals may have lifelong diseases or disabilities as a result. For that reason, the VA recently developed a more robust approach to treating and compensating these veterans, especially when compared to what was in place in the 1970’s. The program and policy includes a specific compensation program directed right at AO exposed veterans.

Thankfully, our country is not nearly as ignorant as it was back then, but the court system seems unable to remedy early denials that were based on information grossly out of touch with scientific realities.

Again, Vietnam era veterans were at least “fortunate” enough to have the VA finally admit that AO caused the injuries and diseases it actually causes. But unfortunately for these five veterans, the VA and the U.S. Judiciary are still claiming an inability to right a wrong committed over 30 years ago.

At least the VA currently pays in large part for healthcare benefits while veterans battle with it to make the VA acknowledge that their injuries or diseases are similarly service related. Let’s hope it stays that way.



The VA still refuses to acknowledge and compensate veterans for A. O. related problems found in the “Ranch Hand” study. Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) is just one of several. What really rankles veterans is the VA’s penchant for treating less than perfect evidence as negative evidence, in a concerted effort to offset the “at least as likely as not” and equipoise is in favor of the veteran clauses in the laws. One glaring example of the VA’s attitude was/is a… Read more »
Tom L

Thanks for the info!!!


Can anyone relate to me about the time limit when to apply for Viet-Nam veterans, in other words when is the deadline to file for this claim.

Jorge Anderson,PhD.

This is ridiculous that these men were denied and then denied access to remedy through the courts of the United States. This is a disgrace for any veteran to have to suffer.

Louis Griffis
I was sprayed with Agent Orange at a fire base on the border of South Vietnam and Cambodia with a huie Helicopter in the dry season with no way to take a shower or to wash off the only water we had was a tanker truck with water to cook and clean dishes with. Now iI’am legaly blind and the doctors say they can not rule out Agent Orange. I have Optic Neuropathy with no know causes but can not… Read more »

ALL the paper work was sent in that was required and after months, the do not even respond to anything. I guess they just shit can it. its a shame

Michael Grill

I was informed by the VA that in January 2011 that the regs changed
and tbey were mandated to process and complete over 200,000 AO cases
prior to all other claims. I learned this when asking why my non AO case
was taking so long.

Hope this is helpful.


Nemer did not do anything for us. The cardiologists diagnosed at the diagnosed non ischemic contrary to the doctor’s report we had back in 1994. Our denial said although left bundle branch blockage is considered ischemic we had to prove service connection…we are appealing through the D.A.V. our congressoman went haywire and let go of everyone that helped us….great job congress…go to freaking hell congress


In Oct 2012 I turned in a claim for LBBB. How could you not prove service connection? I did a tour of Vietnam. Were you in Vietnam?


you have to go to the D.A.V…and check out their advocates


[…] the story of Vietnam veteran Charles Cooley. Cooley suffers from a myriad of illnesses related to Agent Orange exposure, as do many other Vietnam era veterans. Here, he applied for an increase but complications […]


I think the VA wants to stall the connection between agent orange and illnesses scientific doctors find . The more years that pass the more vets die, and the less the VA will have to pay out. its already been almost fifty years for some of us I think its all about politics and they really don’t want to help us veterans. I think the wrong people are looking at paper work and scientific evidence

I sent in an appeal or Notice of Disagreement (NOD) on January 25th 2012. My original claim was completed January 31 2011 and I had a year to appeal. They received my NOD on January 25th 2012. They sent a letter February 9th 2012 saying my Nod was too vague and I needed to specify exactly what I was appealing. I then sent them another NOD on March 13th 2012 (within 60 day appeal window). They sent me another letter… Read more »
Robert Erhard Sr.

Read the Nehmer Training Guide. Look under Nehmer Process Guidelines. Nehmer (page 13) states: There is no time limit imposed for submission of evidence by a claimant.

David Davis
Veterans have been had by Congress. Kissinger was right we defend the people that control the money. They turn their backs on us and we still do nothing but complain. We need to do something united while we still can. Hopefully our military will support the people when the time comes and not be like Syria or other countries. This government is a sham and is full of deceit and corruption on all levels. As long as this constitution is… Read more »
Robert Erhard Sr.
The anchorage area within Da Nang Harbor is within… “an estuary”… that consists of The Cu De River and The Han River ; surrounded by 3 shore lines; well sheltered from the open sea; well within the geographical borders of Vietnam. ” THE ESTUARY” definition / contents provides the scientific proof … presumption of exposure: by run-off erosion, defoliation,herbicides, pesticides, chemicals, to include raw sewage, ETC. . Apply Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptives (by law clerk Nichols 2010)… to… Read more »
Robert Erhard Sr.

Correct Date of previous comment to December 10, 2013.
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Robert Erhard Sr.
The Nehmer Court Order takes into account to adjudicate / re-adjudicate the (so-called) 30 (plus) years appeal made in 1979 . The Nehmer Training Guide February 2011 Revised makes it obvious and infers that the DVA actions were not that of which Congress intended; The DVA must process such claims to the Nehmer Court Order : The Nehmer Training Guide. The Lawyers are @ DVA Attn: Nehmer Working Group (211A) 810 Vermont Ave. N.W. Washington D.C. You can find the… Read more »