KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some veterans of the Vietnam War, including some in the Kansas City area, are newly applying for medical benefits for exposure to the toxic chemical Agent Orange.
“We see them every single day,” one staffer at the VFW headquarters in Kansas City said.
During the Vietnam War, the military dumped 20 million gallons of Agent Orange to clear jungle growth and reveal enemy hideouts. The chemical was later proven to cause cancer and other health problems to people exposed to Agent Orange.
Earlier this year, the government broadened the guidelines that determine which veterans are able to apply for medical claims related to Agent Orange exposure.
As part of its National Veterans Service, the VFW offers veterans free assistance with paperwork and the procedure to file claims with the Veterans Administration.
It's a free service for honorably discharged veterans, but the VFW prefers people call this toll free number make an appointment: 1-800-VFW-1899.
Last year, the VFW helped veterans secure $8.3 billion in overall claims with the VA.
In Missouri in 2018, 20,005 veterans received $305 million in total claims with assistance from the VFW. In Kansas, 10,331 veterans secured $156 million in overall claims, according to the VFW.
“Many times veterans will come in years later asking about what they’re entitled to because they were never really told what to expect when they got out of the military, and that’s what we’re here for,” said Ryan Gallucci, the veteran service director with the VFW.