LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The clocking is ticking for veterans and some members of the U.S. military to apply for special healthcare coverage related to toxic substances, including Agent Orange.
October is Agent Orange Awareness Month. Agent Orange is a chemical herbicide once used by the United States military to clear out trees and other plants during combat operations. The chemical was used to strip the plants bare to expose enemy troops.
While other chemicals were deployed in the early 60s and early 70s, Agent Orange was the most widely used agent.
The EPA says an ingredient in Agent Orange is known to cause cancer.
Ronald Hawk, 76, is a Vietnam War veteran and he says he has developed health issues because of his exposure to Agent Orange.
“Us guys coming back got no recognition or anything and that hurts,” he says. “It really does. Some of us now are paying for it because of Agent Orange. We didn’t know anything about it. We thought they were spraying for mosquitoes but that wasn’t what they were doing.”
In 2022, President Joe Biden signed the ‘PACT Act.’ The new law expanded health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burns pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances during deployments.
Veterans who were deployed in a combat zone, never enrolled in VA Health care or who left the military between Sept. 11, 2001, and Oct. 1, 2013, can apply for special healthcare-related benefits to cover toxic exposures.
Saturday, Sept. 30 is the last day for those who are eligible to enroll in this special healthcare enrollment period.
Visit the Veteran’s Affairs for more information.