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 didn’t note 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.