29 August 2011

Deadline for Retroactive Benefits Approaches - August 30!

PLEASE: If you have, or suspect you have any condition associated with Agent Orange exposure, your application for benefits musts be filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs by August 30 to qualify for one year of retroactive benefits.

The VA has been announcing this for quite some time, and those suffering from three specific diseases may qualify for a year of retroactive benefits...that will be determined by their rating officers, but YOU must send in at least a simple letter of application...consider using the following language - a more formal application can follow at any time but you MUST have something submitted.

Your more formal paperwork can follow later, but let's get this started now. If you know of veterans' survivors, please get the word to them as well!

(your name and address)
(your Social Security Number)

To: Department of Veterans Affairs
    address of your VA Regional Office)

I have been exposed to Agent Orange while in the United States Air Force as a crew member aboard our C-123K aircraft, and apply for all appropriate protections and benefits.


-------------- from Air Force Sergeants Association----------------


Agent Orange Deadline Approaching
Vietnam-era veterans take note; an important due date is approaching for those who have medical diagnoses for three presumptive conditions related to exposure to Agent Orange.

Veterans who have been diagnosed with ischemic heart disease, hairy cell/B-cell leukemias and Parkinson’s disease have until August 30, 2011, to file their disability claims with VA in order to qualify for up to one year of retroactive benefits.

Veterans can file for disability claims online at VA's Agent Orange Fast Track Claims Processing System (https://www.fasttrack.va.gov/AOFastTrack).  ; Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam or in-land waterways between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 may use this website to apply for disability benefits for these conditions. (THIS ALSO APPLIES TO ANY PERSON EXPOSED TO AGENT ORANGE UNDER WHATEVER CIRCUMSTANCES.)

NOTE: Widows and widowers whose spouses have died from Agent Orange presumptive conditions may also qualify for retroactive benefits and are encouraged to file for dependent indemnity compensation by August 30.

Immunization Awareness for Veterans
VA health care workers prepare for the upcoming flu season, it’s important for vets to get the right vaccines in the right doses at the right time.  As part of National Immunization Awareness Month activities, VA provides this list (http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/20110818a.asp) of some of the most important vaccines. 

27 August 2011

Another Vet Earns Agent Orange Recognition - Outside Vietnam!

Thanks to Paul Sutton who forwarded a Blue Water Navy discovery, we now have another example of the VA awarding service connection for Agent Orange-presumptive illness to a veteran who came into contact with the toxin outside Vietnam...in this case, the Philippines. 

The decision by the Board of Veterans' Appeals is great news to us...it gives precedence which clearly shows our road to getting our own cases decided correctly. In his case, he patrolled the fence line of an air base which had Agent Orange freighted through the base. In our case, we have "boots on the airplane" aboard C-123K aircraft which the Air Force itself certified as "heavily contaminated, extremely dangerous, extremely hazardous" and which led to our exposure.

Many of us have claims before the VA now, and we cannot count on every Rating Officer (RO) knowing of this decision regarding Agent Orange exposure outside Vietnam, so it might be beneficial to your case to submit a copy of the decision as additional evidence.

Here is the decision, so very vital to us. It certainly shows how differently the BVA treats veterans represented by competent attorneys!
Citation Nr: 1117698  
Decision Date: 05/09/11    Archive Date: 05/17/11 
DOCKET NO.  09-19 872 )   DATE 
On appeal from the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office in St. 
Petersburg, Florida 
1.  Whether there is new and material evidence to reopen a claim for 
service connection for Type II Diabetes Mellitus, including as due to 
herbicide exposure. 
2.  Entitlement to service connection for Type II Diabetes Mellitus, 
including as due to herbicide exposure. 
3.  Entitlement to service connection for peripheral neuropathy of the 
upper extremities, including as secondary to the Type II Diabetes 
4.  Entitlement to service connection for peripheral neuropathy of the 
lower extremities, including as secondary to the Type II Diabetes 
5.  Entitlement to service connection for a kidney order, including as 
secondary to the Type II Diabetes Mellitus. 
6.  Entitlement to service connection for hypertension, including as 
secondary to the Type II Diabetes Mellitus. 
7.  Entitlement to service connection for a heart disorder, including as 
secondary to the Type II Diabetes Mellitus. 
8.  Entitlement to service connection for a bilateral foot disorder, 
including as secondary to the Type II Diabetes Mellitus. 
9.  Entitlement to service connection for a bilateral eye disorder, 
including as secondary to the Type II Diabetes Mellitus. 
10.  Entitlement to service connection for a lung disorder, including as 
due to herbicide exposure. 
Appellant represented by: Matthew D. Hill, Attorney 
The Veteran 
Rochelle E. Richardson, Associate Counsel 
The Veteran had active military service from December 1968 to October 
This appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals (Board) is from an April 
2008 rating decision of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional 
Office (RO) in St. Petersburg, Florida. 
In that April 2008 rating decision, the RO denied the Veteran's petitions 
to reopen his previously denied, unappealed, claims for service 
connection for Type II Diabetes Mellitus and residuals of a head injury - 
concluding there was not new and material evidence concerning these 
claims.  However, the RO reopened his previously denied, unappealed, 
claim for service connection for a left knee disorder, though continued 
to deny this claim on its underlying merits.  The RO also denied his 
claims for service connection for peripheral neuropathy of the upper and 
lower extremities, a kidney condition, high blood pressure, a heart 
condition, a bilateral foot condition, a bilateral eye condition, facial 
skin cancer, a lung condition, depression, and venereal disease.  As 
well, the RO denied his claim for permanent and total disability and 
eligibility for Dependents' Educational Assistance. 
In his July 2008 notice of disagreement (NOD) with that decision, the 
Veteran contested the RO's denials of his claims for Type II Diabetes 
Mellitus, peripheral neuropathy of his upper and lower extremities, a 
kidney condition, high blood pressure, a heart condition, a bilateral 
foot condition, a bilateral eye condition, facial skin cancer, a lung 
condition, depression, the head injury, and a left knee condition.  In 
May 2009, the RO issued a statement of the case (SOC) concerning these 
claims and, in response, he submitted a timely substantive appeal (VA 
Form 9), perfecting his appeal of these claims to the Board.  38 C.F.R. § 
20.200 (2010). 

24 August 2011

New Discovery - 1979 Toxins Test on Patches - ACFT 362

Thanks to Prof. Jeanne Stellman of Columbia University, yesterday a newly-found document dating back to 1979 was released dealing with what seems to be the first known testing of Patches for contamination. As everyone knows, Patches was a stinker to fly...summer or winter, the dang thing smelled terrible! Many crew complaints in the period 1972-1979 and the difficulty getting crews to fly the aircraft up to scheduling expectations led AFMC to conduct an in-place examination for Agent Orange and other possible contamination...mostly, though, to simply STOP THE STINK!

Conducted in March of 1979 and written up in September 1979 by Staff Sergeant William Conway and approved by the commander of the Air Force Occupational and Environmental Health Laboratory, Report 79-59 summarized a request by the 439MAW clinic to investigate "Herbicide Orange and Malathion contamination". It reported the contamination present ("a black, viscous, odorous residue") but in amounts low enough not to be considered possible health hazards...and this was in consideration of 1979 levels of what constituted hazardous mounts. It notes the assignment of Patches to the 731st TAS in November 1972 as well as the airplane's use in Vietnam from 1965 until 1972 with the 12th Special Operations Squadron, spraying Malathion and Agent Orange.

The 1979 report also mentions a 1975 examination of residue taken from the airplane completed while the airplane was in depot maintenance at Dothan, AL.

Here's what is confusing: tests done in 1994 did show Agent Orange contamination. In fact, "heavily contaminated" was the summary of the analysis prepared by the Air Force using testing equipment twenty years more sophisticated!

The answer to this seeming contradiction was provided by Professor Stellman, who noted that the report looked for AGENT ORANGE and not dioxin, its poisonous component. Professor Stellman writes us:
The report does not measure TCDD (dioxin) - only the herbicides themselves, which would be expected to be much more volatile and dissipate much more rapidly than the TCDD - so there is no contradiction.
Thus, the 1994 report which examined Patches for dioxin contamination stands as accurate! Heavily contaminated! And so were the aircrews who flew her 1972-1982. Further, in the years after Vietnam it dawned on the scientists and medical professionals that any level of measurable dioxin was unsafe...if it was detectable in any concentration it was too contaminated for safety of those around it, and there is no question, after the decades of testing between 1994 and the final destruction of the fleet in 2010, that the C-123K/UC-123K aircraft were "extremely contaminated, extremely hazardous, extremely dangerous" (in the words of Air Force tests and federal court records!) Now let's hope the VA will finally "man up" and give us recognition for "boots on the airplane"! 

17 August 2011

State of Arizona Deceived During Boneyard Inspection

Dioxin-contaminated UC-123 Quarantine Area
In 2010 the State of Arizona Department of Environmental Quality conducted a site inspection of the famous Boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Prior to the inspection, base officials had been notified of the scope of what needed to be covered. In particular, hazardous materials needed to be identified to the inspectors.

Sign on Dioxin Contaminated UC-1232K
So it came as a bit of a surprise when in July 2011, one of the same officials who conducted the on-site inspection learned about the dioxin-contaminated UC-123K aircraft, all 21 of them stored in a special fenced areas within the already-fenced Boneyard, and with signs restricting entry. Base employees had been required to wear hazmat protection around the stored Agent Orange spray airplanes ever since 1998 to protect themselves from the contamination. Base employees had even filed an IG complaint about the dioxin contamination they'd been exposed to around the airplanes, a complaint which went all the way up to the Surgeon General of the Air Force for resolution.

Davis-Monthan officials conducted the Arizona DEQ officials around the Boneyard, but in July of this year this inspector found it quite surprising (enough to be taking to his boss) that they were never driven past the UC-123K...they were never told about or shown the largest collection of dioxin-contaminated aircraft in the world.

This inspector, careful of his departmental manners, didn't want to say that they'd been deceived or mislead, but in early August 2011 Arizona DEQ officials confirmed that the base was required to reveal the storage of exactly this type of threat to the environment but failed to do so. No note was made of the 21 planes at all in the written materials the base provided nor during the drive through the Boneyard which avoided them...the inspectors never even realized that the special UC-123 "quarantine area" (as the Boneyard officials themselves labeled it) had existed for many years!

Smelting UC-123 Planes - "the Navy Way...the Quiet Way!
Seems the efforts of AFMC, the 75th Air Base Wing and Davis-Monthan were successful over the years in keeping things low-key. All the way up to the dramatic destruction of the airplanes last year via an unrelated Navy disposal contract which, as Mr. Boor described it, was the "Navy way....the quiet way." Was that because of the possibility of a $3.4 billion fine as various AFMC memoranda point out?

09 August 2011

731st TAS Has it All Wrong!

John Harris and the other guys with the 731st TAS have it all wrong. They have for years tried to do an engine start the old-fashioned way...the Air Force way! Totally wrong.

Below, brave hearts of the 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron show how its REALLY done. Man-up and lend a hand y'all, as the 74th shows you how to push-start a C-123! 'Course, it would have helped it they'd been pushing from behind, and if Arch hadn't had his foot on the brak
AME don't need no stinkin' start cart!