Yes, in some cases. The VA currently recognizes spina bifida (except spina bifida occulta), an incomplete closing of the spine, in biological children of a veteran with qualifying military service. The children must have been conceived after the veteran first entered Vietnam or the Korean DMZ during one of these time periods and locations:
- The birth mother or father must have served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, or
- In or near the Korean DMZ between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971 if exposed to herbicides, or
- In or near the Korean DMZ between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971 – veterans are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides in this time period.
The birth defect must have resulted in a permanent physical or mental disability. Covered birth defects do not include conditions due to family disorders, birth-related injuries, or fetal or neonatal infirmities with well-established causes. In addition, the level of disability takes into account the limitations on cognition, communication, motor abilities, activities of daily living, and employability.
The VA provides compensation, limited health care benefits, and vocational training for eligible children of Veterans exposed to the herbicide. VA benefits are provided through the authority of existing law and regulations, including 38 USC 1804, 38 USC 1805, 38 USC 1815, 38 USC 1821, 38 CFR 17.900 and 38 CFR 17.901. As with other VA benefits, all eligibility criteria must be met.
There are several research studies about Vietnam Era Veterans’ exposure to herbicides, including Agent Orange, by The Department of Veteran Affairs(VA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and The Institute of Medicine (IOM). Another excellent source of information about Agent Orange is the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s PubMed, which can be found here.