My daughter and I have been advocating for the families of veterans exposed to Agent Orange and the veteran since 2007. We have connected with numerous children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange and their families. We also gathered some health information along the way. As a result, we found that there is a high incidence of Chiari among this population, as well as autoimmune and rare disease, cancers, mental health illness, and learning disabilities such as autism and ADHD.
We have created a group on facebook to gather information from the adult children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange. We will work with the VA, our elected officials and Institutes of Medicine in hopes of adding Chiari as a qualifying birth defect associated with Veterans’ qualifying service in Vietnam or Korea. Join us at Agent Orange Legacy – Chiari
As many of you know, spina bifida is the only birth defect or illness recognized by the VA in the children of male veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Recently, we learned that at least two (2) biological children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange who have been approved for Entitlement to a monetary allowance under 38 U.S.C.A. § 1805 for a Vietnam Veteran’s child because Chiari is a form and manifestation of Spina Bifida.
We have found that both claims were approved but only after the claim(s) were appealed. To apply use: Application for Benefits for Certain Children with Disabilities Born of Vietnam and Certain Korea Service Veterans VA Form 21-0304.
What We Learned…
A. First Case: DOCKET NO. 02-00 680, Veterans’ Appeal; Chiari as a form and manifestation of Spina Bifida in biological child of a male veteran exposed to Agent Orange
(1) Spina bifida can occur at other levels of the spine.
(2) Spina bifida is not limited to spina bifida per se, but potentially includes other forms and manifestations of spina bifida except spina bifida occulta. Jones, 16 Vet.App.at 225-26.
(3) Chiari I Malformation and syringomyelia are neurologic abnormalities and both manifestations of a neural tube defects which are associated with spina bifida (from a pathophysiologic and etiologic point of view)
(4) The doctrine of reasonable doubt; A veteran is entitled to the “benefit of the doubt” when there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence.
B. Second Case: DOCKET NO. 06-22 849, Chiari as a congential birth defect, Chiari II malformation, a form of Spina Bifida in biological child of male veteran exposed to Agent Orange
(1) Chiari II malformation is a form of spina bifida and is a congential birth defect.
(2) Encephalocele and Anencephaly are not covered although they are neural tube defects.
(3) The term “spina bifida” is all forms and manifestations of spina bifida, except spina bifida occulta (for the purpose of VA disability benefits).
(4) Congenital hydrocephalus with Chiari II malformation is a form of spina bifida which was determined by neurosurgeon who was obtained to provide an independent opinion.
(5) Exposure to Agent Orange is a known risk factor for spinal dysraphism in an off-spring, which may include a congenital defect in the vertebrae with distention of the meninges with or without spinal cord involvement and that it was not uncommon for the diagnosis to include a Chiari II malformation as well as hydrocephalus, according to an independent medical expert.
(6) The independent medical expert further stated that Chiari II malformation is a brain stem malformation found only in patients with spinal dysraphism.
(7) A Chiari II malformation is found only in the setting of spina bifida and therefore is a congenital birth defect, even though there was no mention of skin findings or closure of spinal dysraphism according to the independent medical expert.
(8) A Chiari II malformation is a form of spina bifida, which is uncontroverted, and not spina bifida occulta or other neural tube defects such as encephalocele and anencephaly according to the independent medical expert.
Do be sure to download each pdf and read them for yourself. The above is a summary of the most important information which I extracted from the appeals. You should keep in mind that each case is different so results of the extracted info might not apply to all diagnosed with Chairi Malformation.