Vietnam War veterans in Iowa who may be suffering from decades-ago exposure to certain dangerous chemicals are encouraged to sign up on the Agent Orange Registry at their county V-A office. Dan Gannon, with the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs, says the registry brings an extensive health screening — at no cost.

Gannon says you’ll be checked for at least 18 different cancers and diseases. Agent Orange was an herbicide and defoliant used in the jungles of Vietnam to remove dense plant growth and deprive enemy soldiers of cover. The chemicals were applied up to 13 times higher than the legal USDA limit. He says the mixture contained toxins later proven to cause birth defects in children and other maladies that develop over time.

Gannon calls Agent Orange “one of the most serious carcinogens man ever made” and says recent studies show links to diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, various types of soft cells cancers and respiratory diseases. Gannon, who was a Marine platoon leader in Vietnam from 1969-1970, says he was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 after his employer required a physical exam. He says Vietnam vets don’t need to file a claim to have a thorough exam.

“You sign on the dotted line to go serve your country and give your life and they at least owe you to take care of you,” Gannon says. “Vietnam vets need to go in and get the help they deserve. If you had boots on the ground in Vietnam, anything that has to do with the Agent Orange diseases or illnesses, it’s considered presumptive,” and you may be entitled to compensation.

Learn more at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website:

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic