Tester, Moran Fight for Health Care for Korean War Veterans

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced legislation that extends presumption dates for veterans who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) during the Korean War so more can receive critical care for Agent Orange or other chemical exposure.

Tester’s Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act expands the presumptive period for Korean DMZ veterans exposed to toxins by 7 months. Declassified Department of Defense documents indicate that chemical testing in the DMZ started before the current presumptive dates.

“Service members who were exposed to Agent Orange or other toxins in the line of duty deserve to have their medical needs met.” Tester said. “This bipartisan bill will ensure our brave veterans who risked their lives at the Korean DMZ can access the care they need.”

“The Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act would help increase access to healthcare for Korean DMZ veterans who served in the region while testing of Agent Orange and other herbicides was occurring,” said Sen. Moran. “Many veterans who served in the Korean DMZ during the Vietnam War are suffering from significant health conditions associated with exposure to toxic herbicides, and those exposures are currently not being recognized by the VA. I encourage my colleagues to support this legislation so we can finally resolve this issue and Korean DMZ veterans can begin receiving the benefits they deserve.”

Presumption for Korean DMZ veterans currently covers the period of April 1, 1968-August 31, 1971. Tester’s bill would change the starting date to September 1, 1967 to account for previously unreleased Defense Department documents.

Tester has continuously fought to get medical benefits for veterans suffering from toxic exposure. Last Congress, he sponsored the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act after pushing the VA multiple times to expand the list of medical conditions associated with Agent Orange Exposure.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) estimates that between 1,000-1,500 veterans nationwide would benefit from the Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act.