While the Vietnam War Ended, Fights for Disability Benefits Live on
Is the Vietnam War old news? Not in terms of disability benefits. When the last marines from the U.S. embassy withdrew from Saigon in 1975, the United States’ presence in Vietnam was over. Unfortunately for many veterans, remnants of the war still live on in the form of disabilities.
You can see an example of veterans’ ongoing struggle in the Los Angeles Times article about a Vietnam veteran, John Otte. John is 65 years old and has received two Purple Hearts. He receives $1900 a month for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), diabetes and shrapnel scars on his arms. He petitioned for Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU), which would raise his benefit to $3,000 a month. He is still waiting to hear from the VA to find out whether they will approve his petition.
According to the article, hundreds of thousands of Vietnam War veterans like John are filing for benefits. However, there is a backlog of 865,000 veterans fighting for compensation, and Vietnam vets are the largest percentage (37%) of the denied backlog. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) presumes that heart disease, type two diabetes and some other common Vietnam War diseases are service-related based on exposure to Agent Orange. Also, as veterans hit retirement, some of them experience relapses in PTSD.