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Senate Advances Bill To Expand Benefits For Veterans Exposed To Agent Orange

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Veterans suffering from three health conditions related to Agent Orange exposure are closer to receiving expanded benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate advanced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would add bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism to the VA’s list of conditions considered linked to Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War. Bill Garberg is a Vietnam veteran from Great Falls with Parkinsonism.

“The men that have survived this long should get some help,” he said. “The help that they deserve.”

According to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s office, about 30% of Montana's veterans served in Vietnam and may have been affected by exposure to Agent Orange. Veterans make up a larger portion of Montana’s population than the national average: About 1 in 10 adults in the state are veterans.

Tester, who proposed the Senate amendment to expand the VA benefits for Agent Orange exposure, says he's optimistic the amendment will survive bill negotiations with the U.S. House.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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