An estimated 72,000 to 171,000 civilians were in Vietnam supporting the U.S. war effort there, despite not being part of the military. These include those who worked on behalf of the U.S. government in Vietnam, members of the Red Cross workers, USO workers, members of the media, among other occupations. Some of these individuals have suffered many of the same types of illnesses as servicemembers who were exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides. There is no current system in place by the U.S. government to acknowledge or address claims by non-military personnel in Vietnam. There are situations in which civilians may be entitled to compensation because of exposure to a particular hazard, but this is not the case with Agent Orange. Some civilians who worked at military bases may have had an limited opportunity to file a claim with the Department of Labor, essentially a workers’ compensation claim, through the Defense Base Act of 1941. This act covers bases overseas, but the claim must have been filed no later than one year from the date of the injury — too late for civilians who experienced diseases or illness for the first time decades after initial exposure.
I’m a civilian who supported U.S. military in Vietnam. Am I eligible for Agent Orange compensation?