The Vietnam War and Diabetes

The Vietnam War and DiabetesThe Vietnam War and Diabetes: the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) confirmed a link between military service in Vietnam and a higher instance of Type 2 diabetes also known onset diabetes or diabetes mellitus.

What this means in practical terms is that the nearly 3 million service personnel that served in Vietnam during 1962 and 1975 may be eligible for a variety of services and benefits from the U.S. Government if they have developed diabetes since their deployment to Vietnam.

Why was this alteration made? The use of Agent Orange has everything to do with the probable link between military service and onset diabetes. Agent Orange was used to kill ground cover making it much more difficult for the enemy to find hiding places. This herbicide unleashed a litany of long-term health complications including diabetes mellitus, cancer and a variety of less severe illnesses for service personnel. The VA confirms the use of some 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides in Vietnam. It also indicates health issues were common among service personnel returning from the Asian country following the war.

A statement from the VA reads, “Military veterans who served in Vietnam who now have Type 2 Diabetes are eligible for presumptive service-connected disability compensation and health care connected with this condition through the VA. Service in the waters offshore or in the air does not qualify a veteran unless there is proof that he or she set foot on land in Vietnam. For most veterans who served in Vietnam, their service is clearly shown on their military discharge papers (DD-214). Veterans with qualifying service should obtain a detailed statement from their treating doctor that they are being treated for diabetes, as a successful VA claim could entitle them to compensation for diabetes.”



Once a military health case file has been created and accepted Vietnam War veterans will have justification for additional claims related to the care of their diabetes and a compliment of compensation benefits.

Health care benefits include medical care and prescription drugs related to the care of diabetes at no cost to qualified veterans.

The following is a list of health issues the VA presumes may be related to direct service in Vietnam during the war.

  • Chloracne (must occur within 1 year of exposure to Agent Orange)
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Soft tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Porphyria cutanea tarda (must occur within 1 year of exposure)
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Respiratory cancers, including cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus
  • Prostate cancer
  • Acute and subacute transient peripheral neuropathy (must appear within 1 year of exposure and resolve within 2 years of date of onset)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

What does the term ‘presumed’ mean in this context?

In relation to military service the term ‘presumed’ means that the VA will automatically assume the above conditions were the result of your involvement in the military if all conditions are met in the qualifying process. They presume this even if the actual reasons for the disease were not related to direct military involvement.

This revision in policy regarding the above illnesses was dated November 13th, 2008.

You can visit your regional VA or call them for more specific information about this presumptive coverage and related benefits. Additional information can be found at the following link: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/benefits/Herbicide/