Veterans applying for Agent Orange related conditions including diabetes
mellitus, prostate cancer, ischemic heart disease and Parkinson’s
disease are receiving a new letter from the VA that may cause some alarm.
This letter asks that veteran to provide evidence that they were exposed
to Agent Orange in service and is usually sent to vets who were stationed
in Guam, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Philippines, and Korea. For most vets
filing for these conditions it has been over 40 years since the exposure
so finding evidence may seem like an impossible task. Below are some suggestions
that veterans can take in identifying evidence that they can submit in
to the VA to satisfy this inquiry:
Self document: Write a statement about your experiences in service.
•Did you notice that the grass around or in the base was constantly
brown from spraying? If so how often were you around that area?
•If you were part of a unit that established a firebase or your unit
was responsible for transporting supplies to bases: was there a change
in conditions between visits from overgrown to pristine?
•Regardless of your MOS, document how often you were around the perimeter
of the base for recreational, exercise, or other purposes. All of these
details can be helpful in putting you in proximity to herbicides.
Let the government do the work: Many firebases from this period are considered superfund sites by the EPA.
They have done soil testing on these bases and in their reports list the
contaminating chemicals along with where those chemicals were found. They
won’t specifically state “Agent Orange” so you should
be looking for the chemical name Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD).
Raid the Attic: Letters, pictures, and journals are the usual requests but even if you
where you were you may have noted
who you were with. If you can find the name of a friend you were in service
with, you can reach out to them for a statement.
Pay Stubs: If your DD 214 doesn’t show that you traveled into Vietnam, that’s
fine. Most veterans who were sent to Vietnam for temporary assignments
or just to fly in supplies may have hazard pay on their pay stubs or LES
from that period. Request those records from the DoD.