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
• 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
state “Agent Orange” so you should be looking for the chemical
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.