VA Links Brain Cancer to Agent Orange Exposure in Recent Court Decision
Mrs. Sheree Evans is the surviving spouse of Vietnam Veteran, Edward T. Evans, who passed away from Glioblastoma Multiforme (GM), or more commonly known as brain cancer, in March of 2003.
It is notoriously difficult for veterans to get their disabilities connected to their military service - even when the connection is apparent. In this unique case, the Department of Veterans Affairs was made to concede a very important connection and gave justice to a struggling widow.
While Mr. Evans was presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange during his service in the Vietnam War,
one of the most challenging obstacles for Sheree was showing that his exposure to Agent Orange caused the development of brain cancer. VA had consistently maintained that brain cancer is not on their list of Agent Orange-related disabilities, and, as a result, that there is no medical link for the development of this specific cancer to Agent Orange Exposure.In a recent decision, the Board of Veterans' Appeals decided that the evidence in favor and against were in equal weight and applied the benefit of the doubt rule and on January 26th, 2011 granted Sheree’s claim. While this is not a precedential decision, VA did admit a link between the two.
Time will tell what the outcome of this will amount to, but GM may very well come to be added to the Agent Orange presumptive list.GM is a highly aggressive form of brain cancer which, when left untreated, usually results in death in less than three months. GM has been widely researched and recent studies indicate that there is an increasing prevalence of brain cancers as a result of exposure to toxins (IOM, 2008).
Though not specifically studied in Veterans of the Vietnam War, current research shows a causal relationship between herbicide exposure and GM.
The fact is that there is an unusually high number of Vietnam Veterans who suffer from GM and, due to GM’s aggressive nature, a sizable percentage of them have passed on.