The Veterans Administration (VA) Independent Study Course on Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange Exposure provides essential information for health care providers about the impact of the dioxin-containing herbicide on soldiers in the war. It serves as an introduction to the long-term health consequences of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in Vietnam. This document provides an overview of Agent Orange, the Department of Veterans Affairs health care, research, disability compensation programs for Vietnam veterans and common symptoms and diagnoses of these veterans. After completing this independent study, readers should be able to recognize common symptoms and diagnoses of veterans exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in Vietnam; identify the conditions presumptively recognized for service connection for Vietnam veterans based on evidence of an association with herbicides; explain the role of the Institute of Medicine in the process of establishing a scientific basis for VA’s compensation policy for Vietnam veterans; and discuss the problems in conducting research on the health of veterans exposed to Agent Orange, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, etc. For more than a quarter century (since the mid-1970’s), the controversy about possible long-term health consequences of Agent Orange has affected the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), previously known as the Veterans Administration. The response has varied by departments and offices and was different over time and administrations. Initially, some officials hoped the concern about health effects would quickly subside. Some of them argued that these concerns were being advanced by the news media and veterans’ advocates out of sync with mainstream medicine/science. Others concluded that these concerns were valid and should be dealt with in a forthright manner. Those favoring the latter point of view ultimately prevailed and VA launched a comprehensive program to respond to the concerns of these veterans and their families. This program consists of a health registry that has provided medical examinations to over 300,000 Vietnam veterans, medical care to large numbers of Vietnam veterans, disability compensation for tens of thousands of veterans, benefits for the first time for certain dependents (based on their disability), new scientific research and extensive outreach and educational efforts. Agent Orange is the name used to describe a particular type of herbicide blend used for military purposes in Vietnam from 1965 to 1971. The herbicide killed unwanted plants and removed leaves from trees which otherwise provided cover for the enemy. Agent Orange was a reddish-brown to tan colored liquid. The name “Agent Orange” came from the orange stripe on the 55-gallon drums in which it was stored. Other herbicides, including Agent White and Agent Blue, were used in Vietnam to a much smaller extent. Agent Orange was a mixture of chemicals containing nearly equal amounts of the two active ingredients, 2,4-D (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) and 2,4,5-T (2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid). These weed-killing chemicals were widely used commercially and privately in the United States and in many other countries from the 1940’s into the 1970’s. * This is a privately authored news service and educational publication of Progressive Management. Our publications synthesize official government information with original material – they are not produced by the federal government.