Veterans who participate in the examination program are asked a series of questions about their possible exposure to herbicides in Vietnam. A medical history is taken, a physical examination is performed, and a series of basic laboratory tests, such as a chest x-ray (if appropriate), urinalysis, and blood tests, are done. If the examining physician thinks it is medically indicated, consultations with other physicians are scheduled.
No special Agent Orange tests are offered since there is no test to show if Agent Orange or other herbicides used in Vietnam caused a veteran’s medical problems. There are tests that show the level of dioxin in human fat and blood, but VA does not do such tests because there is serious question about their value to veterans. In January 1992, VA signed a contract with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) under which, among other things, the NAS considered the feasibility and possible value of dioxin level blood tests for Vietnam veterans who apply for VA medical care or VA disability compensation. In its July 1993 report (published in 1994 as the Veterans and Agent Orange: Health Effects of Herbicides Used in Vietnam), the NAS concluded that individual TCDD levels in Vietnam veterans are usually not meaningful because of common background exposures to TCDD, poorly understood variations among individuals in TCDD metabolism, relatively large measurement errors, and exposure to herbicides that did not contain TCDD.