“Prostate cancer in Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange is considered a service-connected condition by the Veterans Health Administration.”
There are no uncertain or ambiguous phrases in this clear statement.
But unfortunately, we here at PCAF have observed that some men—perhaps many men—who served our country in Vietnam and were later diagnosed with prostate cancer have been unaware of this important statement, unaware that exposure to Agent Orange is a risk factor for PC, and unaware of the additional benefits to which they are entitled.
Any vets who served with boots-on-the-ground in Vietnam are and can produce (i) a doctor’s report certifying that he has PC, and (ii) his DD214 discharge papers should immediately meet with his local VSO (Veterans Service Officer) to initiate the Form 21-256 “Veteran’s Application for Compensation and/or Pension.” Benefits (which are completely independent of PC treatment or non-treatment) will typically begin accruing the month after submission, even if there is a subsequent request for a Form 21-4138 “Statement in Support of Claim.” Also, note that your VSO can help find an online version of DD214 if yours has been misplaced or lost.
Post by gunfighter on May 11, 2014 11:13:41 GMT -8
Admin, Thank you for helping to get the word out to Vietnam Vets regarding benefits. Well done!
The question of diagnosis in the VA remains. I am forwarding you the latest edition of "Prostate Cancer Screening" by the VA author that I received in March; it is intended to provide guidance to the VA clinical staff and is not in the public domain. "Informed decision making" does not seem to be part of the VA's agenda. Both Tony and Jerry L have copies and I appreciate Tony's support with his state politicians. You know my views, and I have only 1 comment to make since it is a personal issue to me. "I wonder how many veterans have been diagnosed by symptoms with advanced Prostate Cancer due to a lack of screening?" Thanks Again! Bill
More “best practice” awareness information for Vietnam-era vets diagnosed with Prostate Cancer…helping men to “become their own best advocates…”
When a Vietnam veteran is diagnosed with PC and submits the necessary paperwork, he will be rated at 100% disability due to possible Agent Orange exposure. He does not have to prove a connection between his PC and exposure to Agent Orange during military service. This was discussed in the first posting of this thread. (Also, use THIS link to find other cancers and health problems which the VA has recognized as “presumptively” associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service.)
How long does the 100% disability rating last? The answer is, "it depends…"
After diagnosis, the veteran has a personal decision to make about what type of treatment he may pursue, or whether treatment is needed at all.
While it is widely known that the vast majority of prostate cancer cases are non-lethal and many do not necessarily require treatment, new (2013) analysis has found a link between exposure to Agent Orange and a particularform of life-threatening, or high-grade, prostate cancer among Vietnam vets.
A conundrum facing vets regarding the decision whether to pursue treatment or not is that low-grade prostate cancer is also a natural part of aging, and is frequently diagnosed amongst men the same age as Vietnam vets…whether they served or not. In fact, autopsy studies have shown that the majority of men this age have prostate cancer, although most will never know they have it and it will never bother them in their lifetimes.
If a veteran chooses to be treated for prostate cancer, more often than not the treatment is successful in eliminating the cancer as demonstrated by post-treatment PSA test results. If the veteran no longer has cancer, then the disability rating changes. Typically, the vet is reexamined and rated on the “residuals” or after-effects of treatments. The after effects of PC treatment are very common and are usually some combination of incontinence and/or erectile dysfunction. Although every case is uniquely different, a common rating is 40-60% depending on how severe the leakage is. ED is rated under the special monthly compensation category of SMC-k; veterans must remember to ask for this benefit.
If, on the other hand, the veteran chooses not to be treated for prostate cancer, and follows an “active surveillance” regimen, then he will retain the 100% disability rating until he dies…usually death comes from another cause, not the cancer.
Each man’s treatment decision should be made in close consultation with a physician that he trusts, and should not (in almost all cases) be rushed. Take plenty of time to learn about treatment and non-treatment options (educating one's self about PC is another PCAF “best practice"), and examine VA benefit policies closely. Whatever informed decision you make will be the right decision for you!