Shamir Owens and Todd Heywood

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The clocking ticking for veterans and some members of the U.S. military to apply for special health care 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 miliary 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 from the early 60s through the 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 mosquito’s but that wasn’t what they were doing.”

In 2022, President Joe Biden signed the ‘PACT Act.’ The new law expanded Veteran’s Administration 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 those who left the military between Sept. 11, 2001 and Oct. 1, 2013 can apply for special health care related benefits to cover toxic exposures.

Saturday, Sept. 30 is the last day for those who are eligible to enroll.

Visit the Veteran’s Administration for more information.


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