Comm. Josiah Venter served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, where he was exposed to Agent Orange. Years later, he developed Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), which rapidly developed into Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Within months of his diagnosis, Mr. Venter died from his illness. The Veterans Legal Services Clinic (VLSC) represented Mr. Venter’s widow, Martha Venter in her claim for dependency and indemnity compensation, death pension, and accrued benefits. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not currently recognize MDS or AML as presumptively service-connected based on exposure to Agent Orange during service. VA initially denied Mrs. Venter’s pro se claim, finding that her husband’s death was not connected to his service. Represented by the clinic, she appealed and requested a hearing at the Hartford Regional Office, at which time she presented additional medical and lay evidence to prove that her late husband’s fatal cancer was attributable to his exposure to Agent Orange. Based on this new evidence, VA granted Mrs. Venter all the benefits she had sought.
Decision Review Officer Decision, November 26, 2012
Letter to VA from Dr Thomas Patrick Duffy, Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, May 17, 2012