Online Program

Update: "Veterans and Agent Orange" and the Status of the Air Force Health Study

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Anne Styka, MPH, Board on the Health of Select Populations, Institute of Medicine, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Washington, DC

The US Congress granted the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in a program funded through the Office of Veterans Administration (VA) continuation of these two programs. The database comprises the records and biologic assets collected in the course of the Air Force Health Study (AFHS), popularly known as the Ranch Hand Study. Although the study was originally focused on the possible influence of wartime exposure to herbicides, during its course, potential research findings are much broader. AFHS materials available include more than 80,000 biologic samples and data on health status, demographic and socioeconomic status, occupations, and recreational activities at six time points over a 20 year period (1982, 1985, 1987, 1992, 1997, and 2002).  2,758 Vietnam veterans participated in at least one exam cycle. Data from thorough physical examinations include blood dioxin analysis; and semen collection, skin and fat biopsies, stool smears, spirometry,  dermatology and peripheral vascular examinations, neurological assessments, psychological testing, and other clinical endpoints. Questionnaires included information on education; employment; income; marital and fertility history; child and family health; health habits; recreation, leisure, and physical activities; toxic substances exposure; military experience; and wartime herbicide exposure were also administered. New technologies and methods permit analyses that were not possible during the time of the original study: much of the collected information has not been analyzed. The IOM was granted funding to make the Ranch Hand materials available to the research community and to provide support for pilot studies, and several are in process. This presentation will address: (1) the characteristics of the Ranch Hand data and biospecimens, and scientific merit of their continued study; (2) the status of the IOM assets management and dissemination effort and (3) findings from the recently-released report that assessed the management and continued use of the AFHS assets.              2. “Veterans and Agent Orange”, a series of reports from 1984 on,  reviewing the scientific literature relating to health effects associated with Agent Orange and its dioxin, TCDD, and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War.These have beenpublished every other year before the planned ending of this program. There is a possibility that this will be continued in future years. These reports are used by the VA to base their policy based decisions on compensation to Vietnam veterans who served in Vietnam during wartime and who have certain diseases associated with exposure to the herbicides such as Agent Orange or TCDD during during wartime service.


Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Discussion of the Air Force Health Study Evaluate the "Veterans and Agent Orange Project".

Keyword(s): Veterans' Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I supervise a study on health effects of the Vietnam War, including Agent Orange, for the National Academy of Sciences.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.