Air Force Veteran Leon served in Vietnam as a Morse code intercept operator. Today he gets all his health care at VA, including care for health conditions linked to his Agent Orange exposure during service.

When did you first come to VA?

I served in Vietnam from January of 1968 to January of 1969. And anybody that stepped foot in Vietnam was presumed to be exposed to Agent Orange, because it was so prevalent over there. And after I got home, I didn’t really worry about it. I didn’t have a need to go to VA. In fact, I didn’t go and register with VA until late 1980s, maybe early 1990s. I’d heard all the war stories about VA, but I said I’m going to give it a try.

I tried to be honest to determine if I was satisfied with the health care I was receiving from VA. I got assigned a primary care physician and had a physical.

Did you find that your eligibility from exposure to Agent Orange had an impact on your care? 

Once VA found out I had [medical conditions related to exposure from] Agent Orange, they scheduled me for test after test after test. And they discovered I had type 2 diabetes and ischemic heart disease.

What does ‘presumptive’ mean to you, and how did it affect you?

There are different diseases that are called presumptive diseases. They can’t determine whether some of these diseases are caused by some other incident or whatever, so they call them presumptive. They presume they were caused by Agent Orange.

My service officer said, “Let’s submit because if they ever approve ischemic heart disease as a presumptive disease, you’ll be compensated back from the time you first submitted your paperwork.”

In December 2010, I got notification I was approved as service connection for ischemic heart disease. From that time on, because I was awarded 100-percent disability, I’ve utilized VA for all my medical.

I get all my medications from VA, eyeglasses, dentures; anything I need, I go through VA. So I’ve been very satisfied.

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By Bronwyn Emmet is a public affairs specialist for VA's National Veterans Outreach Office

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Published on Sep. 6, 2021

Estimated reading time is 1.8 min.

Views to date: 281


  1. Leon A Johnson September 6, 2021 at 11:17 pm

    I found this article about Leon and agent orange very interesting because my name is also Beyond and I was also there from January 68 to January 69 I was in the army has a helicopter crew chief

  2. Victor Sellers September 6, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    I filed a claim for skin conditions and residuals of Agent Orange Exposure in April 1983 because I was hospitalized for a month, 22 days in Vietnam before being medivac’d to Japan, then to Great Lakes Naval Hospital because of a “skin disease“ written right on my medical records. I wanted to file in April 1972 for total disability, but my medical treatment records were said to be lost, but were actually just intentionally withheld, and never lost. The VA has withheld ALL my MTR’s and ALL Compensation until 2016, when I finally got service connected, but many records are still being withheld. I was 100% Directly Disabled in Service, but the evidence was withheld, so myself and dependents never saw one cent in any C & P. Now, my oldest son has passed away at 47 years old, and was conceived while I was “HOME AWAITING ORDERS”. I had just been released from GLN HOSPITAL, but was still ill when he was conceived, and he’s now dead. I have nerve damage and dozens of other conditions ever since Vietnam, but was denied Service Connection when the MTR’s show plainly DIRECT SERVICE CONNECTION and it’s over 50 years justice has been denied. Little to no RETROPAY. Why are C & P still withheld?

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