This bill would extend the presumption of exposure to herbicide agents (such as Agent Orange) to Blue Water Navy (BWN) Vietnam veterans, and to veterans who served near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between September 1, 1967, and August 31, 1971. As a result, these veterans would be eligible for additional disability benefits through the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) if they develop a disease linked to herbicide exposure. The VA would be required to conduct outreach to inform these veterans and veterans service organizations of the ability to submit a claim for disability compensation if they develop certain diseases.
VA benefits would also be extended to certain children with spina bifida who were born to veterans who served in Thailand between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, and were determined to have been in contact with a herbicide agent. The VA secretary would be required to submit a report to congressional veterans affairs committees regarding the use of herbicide agents in Thailand during the Vietnam era.
Additionally, the VA would report to Congress about the number of BWN disability compensation claims and the number of claims granted and denied. The VA would also update Congress about the Follow-up Study of the National Cohort of Gulf War and Gulf Era Veterans, which examines the health of veterans who served in the Gulf War elsewhere.
The VA’s Home Loan Guaranty program would be reformed to ensure that veterans can use their home loan benefit in high-cost areas, and receive appraisals in a timely and cost-efficient manner.