Agent Orange was a tactical herbicide used in the Republic of Vietnam. It was developed by the Department of Defense for use in combat operations to counter the natural advantages that dense jungle offered the enemy. The name, "Agent Orange," came from the orange stripe on the 55-gallon container in which it was stored. Other herbicides, including Agent White and Agent Blue, were also used in Vietnam to a much lesser extent. Between 1961 and 1971, the US military in South Vietnam used more than 19 million gallons of herbicides for defoliation, plant kill, and food supply disruption. Several types and combinations of chemicals were used. The three most common mixtures were Agent Orange, Agent White, and Agent Blue.

In the 1970's some Veterans became concerned that exposure to Agent Orange caused health problems. One of the chemicals in Agent Orange contained minute traces of TCDD (dioxin), which caused a variety of illnesses in laboratory animals. More recent studies have suggested that the chemical may be related to a number of cancers and other health problems.

Under Section 102, Public Law 104-262, the Veterans' Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was directed to furnish hospital care, medical services and may furnish nursing home care to Veterans exposed to herbicides in Vietnam. For more information about the VA's Agent Orange program call the toll-free helpline: 1-800-749-8387; for disability compensation program information, call toll-free: 1-800-827-1000.

The role of JSRRC is to support the Department of Veterans Affairs with military unit records and official data base research to verify the Veteran’s exposure to Agent Orange while serving in the military. To conduct this research, the Veteran must provide the "who, what, where, and when" of the exposure event.