Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Agent Orange Exposure to C-123 Aircrews Not In Vietnam 1972-1982 #agentorange

Between 1972 and 1982, up to 2,100 U.S. Air Force (AF) Reserve personnel trained and worked on C-123 aircraft previously used to spray Agent Orange (AO) during Operation Ranch Hand (ORH) in the Vietnam War.
AO residue was found on those aircraft. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) considers AF Reservists who served in ORH C-123s ineligible for health care and disability coverage under the Agent Orange Act of 1991.
Recently, VA asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to evaluate whether service in ORH C-123s could have exposed AF Reservists to herbicide residues at levels harmful to their health. IOM found:
  • The AF reservists would have experienced some exposure to chemicals from herbicide residue when working inside ORH C-123s. 
  • It is plausible that, at least in some cases (which cannot be associated with specific individuals), the reservists’ exposure exceeded health guidelines for workers in enclosed settings. Thus, some reservists quite likely had problems - as the report puts it, "non-trivial increases in their risks of adverse health outcomes."
Action:
  • If your client worked on those planes during that time, consult the Agent Orange Registry at your local VA Health Care Facility. The Client Does Not Have To Have Been In Or Near Vietnam - just working on those C-123s 1972-1982s. If you don't know where the Agent Orange registry is, ask at the information desk. It is not certain that VA will act on this, but it seems likely and the client has earned help for any AO-related problems. This can include medical assistance and disability pay. NOTE WELL: disability pay typically relates back to the day on which a claim has been filed. It is therefore very important to file a claim immediately, even if not all the documentation is available to complete a claim. If your client uses the online claim system, the start date is the day on which the claim STARTED to be filed, not the date on which the claim was completed. This can be an important distinction if it takes your client time to get all the documentation. Do not delay. As a general rule, your client can get the help they need filing a claim through their preferred VSO, but if they advocate delaying for any reason, your client may be better served going to the next one.
  • If your client did not work on those planes but had exposure to Agent Orange in other ways, check with the Agent Orange Registry. This report is the direct result of an affected veteran advocating not for himself but for his comrades, with a long campaign of calls, letters and documentation. If the client is not currently within the rules, the rules can be changed - read more at Dogged Reservist Behind Win for Ailing C-123 Crewmen
Learn More:
Originally posted at Lawyers For Warriors from material at  Veterans And Friends of Puget Sound

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