Q. My father, an Air Force veteran, died from cancer three years ago. He was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Have there been any studies on the health of children of veterans? I have been diagnosed with cancer.
Studies have been conducted, but the focus has been on birth defects in children of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. There is a registry for these children maintained by the National Birth Defect Registry. At present, there appears to be no mention of diseases that develop later in life for children of veterans who were exposed. These children are no more than 50 years old and may not have been diagnosed with other diseases yet.
If they have (as in your case), they may not be reported or the individual might not link them to a parent’s exposure. Many veterans are only now beginning to be diagnosed with various diseases that may be related to Agent Orange, so diseases in their adult children will hopefully become a new area of research.
If your father did not file a claim for service-related disability compensation, a family member can file a claim. If a Vietnam veteran dies of a medical condition considered to have resulted from exposure to Agent Orange during military service, certain surviving family members may be eligible for monthly compensation payments through the VA’s dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) program. Many Veterans Service Organizations offer free assistance to help you present your claim to the VA. You can find a list of Veterans Service Organizations, along with eligibility requirements and procedures for filing a claim, in a guide created by the Vietman Veterans of America.
Additional resources about Agent Orange exposure and cancer include: