Benefits

Children of Women Vietnam Veterans VA Benefit Program

Why is There a Special Benefits Program for the Children of Women Who Served in Vietnam?

Veterans’ children don’t normally qualify for VA health benefits.  Why are women who served in Vietnam different?  The answer is Agent Orange.  The chemicals in Agent Orange accumulate in the body and remain there for years.  One of the consequences of exposure can be birth defects in the children born to women who were exposed to the chemicals.

The U.S. Government Sprayed Agent Orange Over 5 Million Acres of Vietnam.

Agent Orange is one of a group of color coded herbicides that the U.S. military sprayed over the fields and forests of Vietnam between 1961 and 1971.  The herbicide was sprayed repeatedly over large swaths of Vietnamese jungle to defoliate the area and prevent the North Vietnamese from using the jungle to hide and evade U.S. troops.  It was also used on crops that might be supporting enemy combatants.   Using aircraft, the U.S. sprayed millions of acres of Vietnamese forests and farmland with 20 times the chemical strength recommended for killing plants.  Many of those forests and fields remain contaminated and unproductive today.  Agent Orange was banned in the U.S. in 1971.  Its use was discontinued.  Remaining stocks were gathered and destroyed. 

Agent Orange is Persistent and Toxic.

Agent Orange was a 50/50 mixture of two herbicides that were thought to degrade in a matter of days or weeks.  However, it also contained a toxic contaminate, dioxin, that did not readily degrade and persisted for decades.  During the Vietnam War, the chemical was carried on the wind, contaminating military bases, MASH units and other areas of the country.  Everyone has heard about Vietnam veterans sickened by Agent Orange and their fight for recognition by the VA.  Many of these veterans who worked with the chemical or who spent weeks or months in contaminated jungle, ended up with heavy accumulations of dioxin in their bodies.  Military nurses and female personnel working in contaminated areas also wound up with concentrations of dioxin that would remain in their bodies for years.  Unfortunately, one of the harmful effects of dioxin is birth defects in the offspring of exposed women.

The Children of Women Vietnam Veterans Health Care Benefits Program.

The program is not a comprehensive health care program, but it does offer some monetary compensation and health care benefits to qualifying children.  Of course, the children of women who served in Vietnam are now adults, but that doesn’t lessen their need for help.  The developing fetus is very susceptible to dioxin and more than 150,000 children were born with dioxin related birth defects.  They were children of both Vietnamese women and U.S. Military personnel.

To qualify for the program, the individual must be the biologic child of a woman who served in Vietnam between February 8, 1961 and May 7, 1975.  The child must have been conceived after the date his or her mother entered Vietnam, and the child must have one of the qualifying birth defects which caused permanent physical or mental disability.  The qualifying birth defects include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Achondroplasia
  • Cleft lip and cleft palate
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Club Foot
  • Esophageal and intestinal atresia (blockage)
  • Hallerman-Streiff syndrome
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Hirschprung’s disease (congenital megacolon)
  • Hydrocephalus due to aqueductal stenosis
  • Hypospadias
  • Imperforate anus
  • Neural tube defects
  • Poland syndrome
  • Pyloric stenosis
  • Fused digits
  • Tracheoesophageal fistula
  • Undescended testicles
  • Williams syndrome
  • Spina Bifida

Hereditary birth defects like cystic fibrosis or Tay sachs disease are not covered.  Neither are birth injuries. 

Available Benefits for Those Who Qualify

To enroll in the Health Care Benefits Program, the candidate must first qualify for a monetary award from the VA.  First, complete VA Form 21-0304.  Provide the completed form to the VA along with these documents:

(1) the mother’s service record showing service in Vietnam during the requisite years;

(2) evidence of the candidate’s biological relationship with the female veteran;

(3) a birth certificate showing date of conception;

(4) Medical evidence supporting the existence of a covered birth defect.

You can work with an accredited representative or agent, or you can go to your local VA office.  If qualified, the candidate may receive a one-time monetary award or a monthly payment.  Once qualified for a monetary award, the candidate can apply for the health benefits program which provides medical care for conditions related to the birth defect, and for some recipients, vocational training.  The program does not provide care for conditions or health problems that are unrelated to the covered birth defect.

Resources

www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/4773

www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/programs/dependents/cwvv/index.asp

www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-special-birth_defects.asp

 

This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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