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New benefits to help veterans with illnesses linked to Agent Orange

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(WBNG) -- Agent Orange was used as a tactical herbicide during the Vietnam War, and the list of illnesses linked to the chemical is growing.

More than 58-thousand Americans were killed in the Vietnam War. However, those still alive live with long-term health effects.

"I personally know of a number of veterans who have one or more of these diseases, and they haven't been covered by the VA," said Southern Tier Veterans Support Group President Ben Margolius. "They get treated by the VA, but they're not getting any compensation."

Agent Orange was used to clear large areas of dense vegetation. Margolius, who is also a Vietnam War veteran, says he knows many Southern Tier veterans with personal experiences with the chemical.

"They had backpack sprayers that you spray crops with. They would pour it into the backpacks, and the soldiers would go out there and defoliate," said Margolius. "In a number of days, it was actually successful."

While it worked in tactical warfare, it left many veterans with life-long illnesses. The growing list now includes bladder cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism.

Under the National Defense Authorization Act, veterans with these illnesses can receive healthcare and compensation.

"I'm aware of some of the pain and suffering some of our veterans are going through, so I think this is very good," said Margolius.

Those three illnesses will join a list of 14 other recognized health conditions. You can read more about those here.

Below are a list of resources in the Southern Tier for veterans seeking help:

  • Broome County Veterans Services: (607) 778-2147
  • Tioga County Veterans Services: (607) 687-8828
  • Chenango County Veterans Services: (607) 843-3299
  • Delaware County Veterans Services: (607) 746-2334
  • Southern Tier Veterans Support Group: (607) 205-8332, or info@stvsg.org

Katie Jones

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