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Effects of Agent Orange on children
  

Claims for spina bifida in children of veterans who served in Vietnam is another area of paramount importance. Spina bifida is a serious birth defect. These claims are handled only by the VA Regional Office in Denver, Colorado. If your son or daughter is affected with spina bifida, you can apply for benefits at any regional office, and your claim will then be transferred to the Denver office.

  
Claim denied or delayed? Don’t give up.

   

If your claim for Agent Orange residuals is denied, do not lose hope! First of all, read the letter the VA sent you, and look specifically at the reasons why your claim was denied. Next, send a one-sentence letter to the VA stating you disagree with the decision. This protects your appeal rights; but your letter must be received within one year of the VA denial letter. In your letter, you can submit any additional evidence you feel is relevant to your claim, or any information the VA requested but you failed to send.
  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  
Since the VA appeals process is a precise yet often difficult process to understand, I would strongly advise contacting a local service organization for help. One of their service representatives will explain exactly why your claim was denied, and will help you process your appeal. Sometimes, it’s as simple as not sending in that one piece of information you thought was a waste of time. So don’t lose hope. 
    
The grant of an Agent Orange disability is often a satisfying conclusion to a long, drawn-out struggle. The grant is satisfying to you, the veteran, but it is equally satisfying to the rating specialist. It always gave me great pleasure to prepare a rating granting this benefit.

   

In essence, it helps fulfill the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, when he said, “To bind up the wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

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Ray Gustavson served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, and is a retired VA Rating Specialist. He is currently working on a novel about the Civil War, and also is writing a self-help book for veterans who want to better understand the complexities of the VA claims process.

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