Agent Orange, type 2 diabetes and veteran benefits

SUN Columnist

It’s American Diabetes Month.

Are you a veteran with diabetes mellitus type 2 who was exposed to Agent Orange during service? If so, you may be eligible for VA benefits.

Diabetes mellitus type 2 and Agent Orange

Veterans who develop type 2 diabetes mellitus and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service do not have to prove a connection between their diabetes and service to be eligible to receive VA health care and disability compensation.

About type 2 diabetes mellitus:

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar for energy. In type 2 diabetes mellitus, the body does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells ignore the insulin.

Signs of diabetes type 2 (untreated) are: blurry vision, excessive thirst, fatigue, hunger, frequent urination and weight loss.

Risk factors for diabetes type 2 include: age over 45 years, family history and genetics, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, obesity and gestational diabetes.

Visit Medline Plus to learn about diabetes treatment, the latest medical research and more from the National Institutes of Health.

Here’s how to help prevent diabetes type 2: Work on losing extra pounds because being overweight is the single biggest risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Exercise 30 minutes a day and eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet. Go to to learn more about healthy living.

VA benefits 

Veterans with type 2 diabetes mellitus who were exposed to herbicides during military service may be eligible for disability compensation and health care.

Veterans who served in Vietnam, the Korean demilitarized zone or another area where Agent Orange was sprayed may be eligible for a free Agent Orange Registry health exam.

Surviving spouses, dependent children and dependent parents of Veterans who were exposed to herbicides during military service and died as the result of type 2 diabetes mellitus may be eligible for survivors’ benefits.


The Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences concluded in its 2000 report, “Veterans and Agent Orange: Herbicide/Dioxin Exposure and Type 2 Diabetes,” as well as in 2002 and 2004 updates, that there is limited/suggestive evidence of an association between exposure to herbicides and type 2 diabetes.

Calling all veterans

Scott Whites’ eighth-grade class will host a Veterans Day breakfast at the Ross Aragon Community Center.

This event begins at 0730 and lasts until 1030.

I encourage all veterans to attend.

The American Legion Color Guard will present colors at 0930, and there will be music and singing.

Anyone who can still fit into a uniform is encouraged to come in uniform. Please bring something to show (such as cruisebooks and other memorabilia), be ready to share your story and give the students a good look at our history.

All veterans: thank you for your service, and welcome home.

 Further information

For further Information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Blvd.

I will be out of the office on the following days for regular scheduled meetings:

• Vets4Vets: Tuesday mornings, 0900-1200.

• Arboles Community Center, first and third Thursdays. Back around 1400.

• Pagosa Outreach Connection, 0830 to 1000 every Thursday.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590, and e-mail is The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for completing applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to, and a copy for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office. If the office is closed, I am out assisting veterans, leave me a message and phone number to contact you.

This story was posted on November 7, 2013.