30 September 2011

Agent Orange & Peripheral Neuropathy

After the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy carried a note about our Agent Orange & C-123 connection, I wrote them asking for advice helpful to our flyers. Here is the on-target advice from a Vietnam veteran who's already gone this route. Consider his approach...I can think of none better as we submit our VA claims. One important point about peripheral neuropathy...it must be acute and it must evidence within one year of exposure.

In my case, I had burning sensations severe enough that, while still flying the C-123, I had two operations to sever nerves in my left leg to stop the pain, thus meeting the timing requirement for symptoms. Let us all know how your own complaints get received by the VA!

Eugene Richardson gene@neuropathysupportnetwork.org to brendaDominickme
show details 6:49 AM (1 hour ago) 

Brenda at the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy sent me your request regarding
exposure to Agent Orange and Peripheral Neuropathy and fighting with the VA.

As a retired Vietnam Veteran 67/68 I fought with the VA for six years and finally received
100% disability due to exposure to Agent Orange that in all PROBABILITTY resulted
in my symptoms of PN!   Others have fought the same battle and won.

The secret is to have a Neuromuscular Neurologist familiar with PN to run all the tests
possible and rule out all other causes.   In this way via an AFFIDAVIT from that
doctor, he can state that since all other causes have been ruled out, there is a
very HIGH probability that your diagnosis and symptoms from PN are due to your
exposure to Agent Orange.

Refer to the research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Vet Medicine, published
in the findings of the IOM December 2009, stating in essence that dioxin is a toxin and a
carcinogen of the worst order, causing previously unknown damage to the very cellular
structure of the human body and even the VA acknowledges that it causes Peripheral

Go on my website at www.neuropathysupportnetwork.org and first ORDER the FREE DVD
at the ORDER DVD tab.  

Second, go to the VETERANS/AGENT ORANGE tab read what it says about Agent Orange
and PN, then at the VERY BOTTOM of this page there is a booklet to download.  In this
booklet there are samples of cases won in regard to PM/Agent Orage, and sample
affidavits that I used. If you have someone write up a draft affidavit for your doctor to use,
that is better, as no doctor has the time to do this for you. Make sure you only use facts
from your medical record that the VA has or will have.

After all of this go to the FAQ tab and read all the questions and answers as you will learn
much.  Remember some Neurologists support the fact of chronic neuropathy due to Agent
Orange Exposure and other support only the Acute forms, and others deny everything.   It
is important to know that the amount of Clinical training in the diagnosis and treatment of the
neuropathies is in its infancy and few have been sufficiently trained.   If you read Dr. Latov’s
book (RESOURCE tab) on the causes and some treatments, you will know more than many
of them but do not tell them this.   Just use your knowledge to GUIDE them by asking
questions that they can explore with you by testing. 

When you have done all of this, please let me know when you have other questions.

If you have a website we can send you a LINK ICON to the website for other veterans.

I have attached an endorsement on the DVD and WEBSITE from professionals and ALL 
of the endorsements are in the NSN TODAY tab on the website.

Col Gene
EUGENE B. RICHARDSON, BA, MDiv, EdM, MS (Counseling) LtCol, USA (Retired)
President, Network for Neuropathy Support, Inc., dba Neuropathy Support Network
Advisory Board Member of The Neuropathy Association, Inc.
Volunteer Patient Support and Advocate
Disabled American Veteran

Visit The Neuropathy Association, Inc., at www.neuropathysupportnetwork.org

Description: Email-Signature

29 September 2011

Retired Affairs Office - Bulletin Notes our C-123 Agent Orange Issues

Distributed in the 15 September 2011 Issue of RAO Bulletin, with over 85,000 readers!

Patches, at the Air Force Museum following $57,000 dioxin decontamination
  1. Agent Orange Stateside Use Update 02: In recent complaints to the Air Force Inspector General, the chief of the Air Force Reserve, the Institute of Medicine and other officials, post- Vietnam War era, Wes Carter and Paul Bailey have cited documents showing that the Air Force knew, at least since 1994, of Agent Orange contamination aboard C-123 Provider aircraft flown at Westover and other bases but failed to warn personnel of the health risks. Both men are diagnosed with prostate cancer along with many other in their Air Force Reserve former crewmates in the 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. Carter was stunned when he began checking and found that the first five crewmen he called had prostate cancer or heart disease. The sixth man he tried had died. 

    Since then, he and Bailey have found dozens more former Westover reservists who are sick with prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, peripheral neuropathy and other illnesses connected to exposure to Agent Orange [AO]. In just a few months, they have compiled a list of close to 40 of their fellow pilots, medical technicians, maintenance workers and flight engineers who are sick or have died of such illnesses, many of them from Connecticut and Massachusetts.

    Among the documents the veterans cite is a 1994 Air Force report that found one of the airplanes, known as Patches, was ―heavily contaminated‖ with dioxins. Tests on other planes showed similar contamination, records show. In a 2000 legal brief, the General Services Administration argued that the proposed sale of C-123s to a private buyer should be canceled, dubbing the planes extremely hazardous and saying their release would carry the risk of dioxin contamination to the general public.

    In a 1996 internal memo, an official in the Air Force Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Directorate of Environmental Law, had expressed similar concerns about the possibly contaminated aircraft being sold to third parties, but said: ―I do not believe we should alert anyone outside of official channels of this potential problem until we fully determine its extent. So far, attempts by Westover reservists to claim veterans‘ benefits linked to Agent Orange exposure on C-123s have been stymied.

    One of the veterans who tried was Aaron Olmsted of Ellington, CT, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who flew the C-123. Olmsted, 60, was killed in a plane crash in Pennsylvania in May, four years after he had lost a battle with the Board of Veterans Appeals to prove that he was sick from exposure to Agent Orange. While Olmsted had logged hundreds of hours piloting C-123s at Westover, the veterans‘ appeals board in 2007 rejected his claim that his diabetes mellitus was connected to Agent Orange exposure.

28 September 2011

What Agent Orange Looks Like - Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Sorry to be grim, but here is what dioxin does: soft tissue sarcoma, photo taken last month, with our friend's cancer also evidenced in many lung spots. He formerly was our squadron First Sergeant, and recently retired as he concluded an extended tour of Active Duty at Robins AFB, only to face these medical miseries. We're all praying for Gabby every morning at 7:30 with a world-wide prayer circle! God bless and keep him. (note: MSgt Gadbois passed away in January 2012)

We flew the C-123K/UC-123K. 
We flew the airplane Hill AFB's Public Affairs office decided not to tell us was contaminated with Agent Orange. 
We got sick.
They could have helped.
They didn't.

Gabby on the left, me in the center, on my return from Desert Storm

Complaint to Hill AFB Public Affairs - unanswered!

This describes an amazing failure in ethical public relations, centered around preparation of a misleading press release generated at Hill AFB. I submitted this letter to the 75ABW Public Affairs office, without response from them, after they complained to the editor of the Tucson Citizen regarding coverage of Agent Orange issues at Davis-Monthan AFB and the press release describing the destruction of the stored C-123K/UC-123K dioxin-contaminated airplanes.

August 4th, 2011 on 4:39 am (click here to go to the publish site)

To: Director, Public Affairs, Hill AFB
Sir or Madam:
Thank you for your daily service to the country and the Air Force, and for helping the public understand the mission of our service and the dedication our military and civilian servants show in so many ways.
I do not understand why you have failed to contact me if you feel I misstate the situation involving dioxin contamination of the UC-123K fleet, or your press release involving that aircraft’s destruction last year. Michael can give you my phone number or you can email me directly. If I can be corrected regarding any error, please explain what that error may be.
And public affairs folks know darn well the first thing you do with bad news is disarm it by explaining it truthfully. You can do that now. You could have done so in the “non-release” of the UC-123K event, but you didn’t serve the military well by letting others edit the material so far out of context. As I wrote, you offered no lies in the release…you simply failed to mention that the real event was the destruction of nearly two dozen aircraft, destroyed because of lingering Agent Orange fears.
Read the OSD consultant's memos again. Read the comments from others, including general officers, stressing the need for low visibility, the need to avoid media attention, the need to prevent pubic alarm. Virtually every single memo and email subject line was “contaminated” or “Agent Orange” or “Dioxin”…but none of these words were left after all the editing was done on your press release. Read again the OSD memo to Mr. Boor, congratulating the 505th on the low visibility of the event.
Read those emails from the Senior Consultant to the Office of Secretary of Defense, who stressed the need to prevent those “trash-hauling, freeloading” Air Force Reservists who have been exposed to Agent Orange (according to AFMC’s own tests!) from seeking medical care for their Agent Orange-presumtive illnesses.
Unless I read my fellow citizens wrong, it seems the public wants the VA to be responsive to the needs of war veterans, Active and Reserve, who have service-connected illnesses and injuries. Unless I read the various mission statements wrong in the PA shops I’ve visited in person and online, your press release did a great harm by word-smithing the event so as to not tell the public or the UC-123K veterans the proper truth. My complaint remains that your press release was deceptive, failed to inform and instead concealed information, and misdirected the attention of the media and the public rather than informed the citizenry.
I am still amazed, reading the various emails and messages provided in the FOIA responses from Hill and DM, that there were so many comments about the need to avoid media attention. Even your own press release wasn’t distributed but was prepared just in case some curious reporter poked in the right area. Your UC-123K press release cost you, and the Air Force, media trust and respect.
You yourselves would not accept such a low standard of behavior from the professionals who serve you. You wouldn’t accept it from your subordinates. You would be offended if this kind of behavior was presented by your supervisors and leaders in the service. At the Academy, what you did with the UC-123K information would be called dishonorable. From the Honor Code Handbook…
“Equivocation” or “quibbling” (i.e., using purposely vague, misleading, or ambiguous language, or leaving out pertinent information in a deceptive manner) falls within the jurisdiction of the Honor Code as lying.”
Public Affairs professionals have the vital role of telling the public (as well as those of us in the military) about the full range of the Air Force mission. About how lethal force is employed, how precious tax dollars are spent, and how the precious lives of our sons and daughters are spent in combat. Your UC-123K press release cost you public trust and confidence in your ability to tell the public the whole truth.
So don’t knock on the editor’s door, or the reporter’s. Man up…give me a call and explain why you think it was better not to tell me about my Agent Orange exposure in your UC-123K press release. Tell me why you feel it was better to have me wait another year for my cancer and heart disease progress, another year to pass before I learned I’d been intensely exposed to dioxin.
Agent Orange is a dreaded evil in our family. My late father, Army Chief Warrant Officer Henry Carter, served a year at Phu Cat Air Base in Vietnam, one of the Ranch Hand stations. My father died of prostate cancer, one month after the VA approved his claim for Agent Orange exposure. Our brother-in-law, Sergeant First Class Willy Chiquina, died this summer of Alzheimer’s, perhaps due to dioxin exposure from his service. One of the most wonderful men I’ve ever met, Master Sergeant Bob Boyd, a UC-123K flight instructor in our squadron, died at home of a heart attack while in his easy chair, reading his Bible.
And yesterday, our former wing vice commander, Colonel Paul Huffman, died as his cancers overcame him, hours after he asked his wife to let him leave the ICU and die at home. My own cancer, heart disease, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, added to the spinal cord injury I had during the Persian Gulf War, worry me. Agent Orange worries me. It worries all of us who flew the contaminated UC-123K.
Had I read your press release properly written last year, I’d have been alerted to the fact of possible Agent Orange exposure. Time to watch those PSA numbers! Time to get into the Agent Orange Registry! Time to get a cardiac stress test! Time for your PA warning to take some precautions. Imagine - your press release might have actually helped me and others like me. Instead, your press release failed us, failed the public, and failed the media which trusted you to represent the Air Force to the public. 
Time to take an ethics course.
W.T. Carter, Major, USAF, Retired

27 September 2011

Open Letter of Complaint - AF Public Affairs & C-123K Agent Orange Issue

(a letter of complaint submitted in June and unanswered in the four months since)
Office of Public Affairs
Department of the Air Force           
The Pentagon
Washington, DC

Dear Sir or Madam,

In April 2010 the 75th ABW, Hill AFB, Utah prepared in advance a press release describing the destruction of the remaining C-123K/UC-123K aircraft at the Davis-Monthan AFB. I believe this to have been deceptive and harmful to Air Force interests.

Throughout the period 2000-2010, intense concern was raised at different agencies, including the Office of Secretary of Defense, the Air Staff, the Air Force Surgeon General, the Air Force Office of Environmental Law, the Deputy Undersecretary of the Army, HQ Air Force Material Command and more. The concern: dioxin contamination left on the aircraft from their Vietnam War service as Agent Orange spray aircraft in Operation Ranch Hand.

1993 seems to be the first time when tests were ordered on Patches, the Air Force Museum’s famous C-123, was tested before positioning inside the museum. It tested positive for dioxin…in the words of the Air Force test it was “heavily contaminated”. Other Air Force tests resulted in the aircraft being labeled "extremely hazardous, extremely dangerous, extremely contaminated".

More tests and correspondence accumulate during the period 1994-2000 with the only concerns expressed being the disposal of the aircraft, safety of personnel at the Boneyard, whether Walt Disney films should be told that two of the C-123s they purchased for movie production were contaminated, whether foreign governments should be informed that the aircraft transferred to them were contaminated, and similar correspondence.

In 1996 AFMC’s Office of Environmental Law recommended the contamination be “kept within official channels”, a recommendation endorsed by the writer’s commander, the Director of the Office of Environmental Law.

In 2000 the Air Force joined with the General Services Administration in a court action to stop the contracted sale of some contaminated C123s. The federal judge took their evidence of the aircraft being “heavily contaminated, extremely dangerous, extremely hazardous, extremely contaminated, danger to the public” and other descriptions, and ordered the sale terminated to protect the public health (as recommended by the Air Force!)

26 September 2011

Response Sought from Hill AFB PA Officials

A question left this morning with George at the Hill AFB Public Affairs Office:

Regarding William Boor's 5 August 2009 Position Paper On Immediate Disposal/Recycle of 18 UC-123K "Agent Orange" Aircraft":

1. Why did the base final press release about these aircraft not mention "Agent Orange"?
2. Why did Mr. Boor in Para 7* cite the issue of presumptive compensation as one of the reasons to immediately dispose of the aircraft, when the veterans who were involved were exposed about 30 years earlier? Why cite as justification for immediate disposal of all remaining aircraft the prevention of presumptive compensation by veterans when the veterans have already been exposed to Agent Orange and would otherwise be eligible for VA benefits? Why the intense effort to prevent veterans from knowing about their exposure. Why the effort to sweep the problem of Agent Orange aircraft under the rug of an obscure and misleading press release? Shouldn't the Air Force be concerned about helping veterans who'd been exposed to Agent Orange toxins know about their exposure?

My point is that we've already been exposed...that's a done-deal. Mr. Boor and Dr Young cite the need to get rid of the airplanes to PREVENT claims for presumptive compensation...to prevent veterans who've already been exposed and made ill from presenting their valid claims to the VA. These gentlemen seem unconcerned about CONTEMPORARY risks of personnel becoming exposed (because the AF required personnel working around the stored contaminated aircraft to wear HAZMAT protection and respirators), but the need to prevent a "media storm" (as Dr. Young described it) from bringing the issue into the public eye, to keep "those trash-hauling, freeloading Reservists from finding a sympathetic congressman for tax-free dollars."(Dr. Young's words).

(*from the Position Paper) "7. Supporting this document is a Memo For The Record dated 27 July 2009, from Alvin L. Young, Ph.D. Dr. Young serves as Consultant to the Undersecretary of the Air Force for Installations and Environment and as Consultant on Agent Orange to the Office of Secretary of Defense. The memo explains why the Air Force should dispose of/recycle the 18 UC-123K "Agent Orange" aircraft as soon as possible to avoid further risk from media publicity, litigation and liability from presumptive compensation."

Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy - Notes C-123 Agent Orange Concerns

from the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy:

Agent Orange and the VA:

September 2011: Westover Vets Fight for Agent Orange Benefits
An Air Force reserve squadron out of Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts, is finding some curious coincidences among the veterans who served with them. C-123 Provider planes used to spray Agent Orange during the Vietnam war were reassigned to domestic mission in the US. Dozens of these reservists have now been found to be sick - cancer, diabetes, heart disease, peripheral neuropathy, and other illnesses. Members of the 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron are now trying to get the VA to recognize that the crews who manned these 'spray planes' statesie were exposed to lingering Agent Orange contamination and should be included for benefits like those who went to Vietnam.
Source: New Haven Independent
August 2011: Agent Orange Exposure Caused Wide Range of Ailments
The VA has recognized various types of neuropathy as a 'presumptive disease', meaning they are related to qualifying military service without proof. To find out if you qualify for benefits, this article will help simplify the VA criteria and provides a link to their website. .
Source: The Leaf Chronicle

Latest Results - FOIA data re: C-123 Destruction Press Release

Received Friday, September 23: FOIA materials from 75th Air Base Wing, Ogden, Utah. I'd asked for all materials related to preparation of the 2010 press release describing the final destruction of the remaining C-123K/UC-123K aircraft at Davis-Monthan.

The press release was prepared to be held in case of media inquiry...not released but ready to hand to any inquisitive reporter. It is not clear that it was ever actually used.

What is outstanding is the obvious issue of Agent Orange and the efforts taken to prevent public awareness of the toxin. These were the "Agent Orange aircraft." These were aircraft that were going to be shredded and smelted, for the first time in AF history, solely because of their contamination by Agent Orange/dioxin. Memo after memo described them as the "Agent Orange aircraft." The contamination of the airplanes was the core of the problem, and the core of the worries expressed by leadership concerned about the public learning about this problem.

But never in the press release are the words "Agent Orange" used! Instead, careful wordsmithing resulted in an innocent-sounding announcement of old airplanes being recycled to make room for more storage....in all the paperwork involving these airplanes the only place "Agent Orange" wasn't mentioned was the final press release! Even their contractor balked at going along with that final description, there being so much open desert at DM and no need to create any free space. 

We note the 12 Nov 2009 special letter prepared by Mr. Wm. Boor, 505th ACSS, requesting that "because of the Agent Orange contamination during the Vietnam War", the planes be excluded from resale and salvage operation. Again...the entirety of the problem is Agent Orange! And the entirety of the problem today is the determination of the AF and the VA to avoid recognizing veterans who flew those planes as having been exposed, even though volumes of official documents make it clear we have been exposed to "extremely dangerous, extremely hazardous, extremely contaminated" airplanes!

Perhaps the worst news here is the continued influence of OSD's Agent Orange consultant. Cited throughout the materials is the reference to him as "Senior Consultant to the Office of Secretary of Defense" and other titles, and throughout these papers and all the others we've seen are his recommendations to immediately destroy the remaining C-123K/UC-123K aircraft...he seems to have been one of the key authorities in implementing the final solution, along with MG Busch.

The problem with that is OSD's obvious intense dislike of Reserve Component flyers, whom its' consultant elsewhere described as "freeloading, trash-haulers looking for a sympathetic congressman for tax-free dollars". The consultant, not one of DOD's key supporters of the Total Force Concept, cites in his recommendation for the planes' destruction the fact that the dioxin contamination will result in presumptive connection for Agent Orange VA benefits. Well, Duh!

What's the problem with that? Simply the fact that the veterans were exposed to dioxin on the C-123K/UC-123K three decades earlier! OSD stresses that the aircraft must be destroyed to prevent such claims, yet the veterans have already been exposed! The OSD consultant makes no mention of previous exposure by these individuals other than to remind base officials that such claims for presumptive exposure might surface unless the airplanes were destroyed and somehow the "media storm" over Agent Orange kept from developing.

24 September 2011

Girls of the 74th!

With thanks to Gail (Mas) Harrington, Major, USAF NC, Retired:
On a flight somewhere, probably Norfolk. 

23 September 2011

AFRC & VA Schedule Teleconference About C-123 Crews & Agent Orange

Sent: Friday, September 23, 2011 1:32 PM
Subject: Teleconference scheduled re: AFRC/CC & VA - C-123K & Agent Orange

Today I was informed by an aide to the commander, Air Force Reserve
Command, that they have researched our Agent Orange situation and
essentially confirmed the situation as we've described it...no fault
has been found in any argument we have put forward about the planes
being contaminated or the fact that we should have been notified once
the contamination was known. They have had the results reviewed by
their JAG who also supports the claims we've made about our exposure
and the Air Force's failure to notify affected personnel. Next week,
they have a scheduled teleconference with VA officials to present our
case and seek some kind of solution. Two choices seem possible: first,
to declare the aircraft as Agent Orange exposure sites, or second, to
declare the units involved as a whole to be presumptively exposed. Of
course, there is also the possibility that the VA will stonewall
anything, but at least we have another advocate.

The Vietnam Veterans of America has (or will soon) submitted an appeal
to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs regarding us.

I believe this is the second-best piece of news to come our way, the
best piece being the various official documents we've uncovered. Let's
hope the Chief pushes hard for us...it sounds like we have another
strong advocate!


    Wes Carter, 74AES

22 September 2011

ROA's "The Officer" Comments on C-123K Agent Orange!

From the September-October 2011 issue of The Officer, by CAPT Marshall Hansen, USNR Ret.:
Despite statistics AO continued to affect Air Force personnel, even some exposed after the War. From 1972-1982, contaminated C-123 aircraft, which dispersed the AO during the war, were flown by reserve aircrews who were continually exposed to toxins for more than a decade after the Vietnam War.  Most crew members are showing ailments that can be related to AO exposure. Some have died.

19 September 2011

Connecticut Agent Orange Meeting with Sen. Blumenthal

From Bob Janicki 

Where: Rocky Hill Veterans Home and Hospital Auditorium           
When: Tuesday, September 27th from 9:30 to 11:30 
The event will begin with brief introductions and information sharing with the Veterans in attendance on what they will need to do. 
We will be instructing the Veterans to visit with any of the VSO representatives in attendance who will acquire the necessary contact information as well as the Veterans written Agent Orange related story. 
The Senator will be on hand from 10 A.M. to 11:30 to talk personally with the Veterans.  This will be an informal format for the Senator allowing him to talk one on one with the Veterans.  There will be no press present hopefully allowing the Veterans to share their stories with the Senator as he travels through the auditorium. 
The Senators' Veteran staff will work with each VSO to ensure that all submissions are followed up on. 
This is the first of these Town Hall meetings, others will be scheduled in the future. 
If you are involved with a VSO please get back to me and Michael Thomas Michael_Thomas@Blumenthal.Senate.gov if you plan on attending. 
We need to get some idea on how many VSO reps will be on hand 
Many thanks,

Rest in Peace - Roy Menard

Our brother-in-arms, Roy Menard, gone today from his family, his friends and his nation. From Andy Lown:
Roy lost his battle with cancer this morning at 0300 hrs.  He was a dear friend and comrade to all of us.  He will be missed for his war stories, upbeat attitude, and his willingness to take the shirt off his back to help anyone in need.

There is no info available as to funeral arrangements at this time.  I will update when that info is available.


14 September 2011

Overdue FOIA Responses

These agencies have each delayed over 45 days in responding to our FOIA requests for information about our Agent Orange exposure while serving on the C-123K/UC-123K Weapons System:

Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Secretary
Department of the Air Force, Office of the Secretary
Board of Veterans Appeals, Department of Veterans Affairs
Headquarters, Air Force Material Command
Air Force Security Assistance Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
Board of Correction of Air Force Records
Commander, USAF School of Aerospace Medicine
US Environmental Protection Agency

These individuals had presented to them proof their injustice (through bad act on part of AF regarding of withheld evidence) rendered LtCol Aaron Olmsted and have failed to involve themselves in assisting his survivors to correct his Board of Veterans Appeals ruling. That ruling was issued citing the absence of adequate proof of Aaron's Agent Orange exposure, but the proof had been withheld by the Air Force at the time of the BVA hearing:

Judge Stephen Cohn
BVA Attorney Stephen Reiss
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Director, Hartford Regional Veterans Affairs
Veterans Law Review, Board of Veterans Affairs
Chief Judge, Board of Veterans Affairs

13 September 2011


received today, addressed to me from the Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service. Certainly a polite letter but its value will only be felt if VA and DOD officials will, in turn, consider it. There is no doubt as to the accuracy of our AO claim, just the struggle to get those whose job it is to automatically deny such claims to yield in their position...just a little.

Dear Major Carter,

Thank you for your recent correspondence. Your letter refers to airmen and flight nurses who flew C-123K/UC-123K Provider aircraft from 1972 through 1982. You state that their service led to exposures to Agent Orange (AO). You state that they operated aircraft that had not been properly decontaminated after serving in Vietnam and spraying AO during operation Ranch Hand. Your correspondence includes substantial information to support your claim.

You ask that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) provide emergency assistance by recommending that the Department of Defense (DOD) designate these contaminated aircraft as Agent Orange Exposure Sites. I understand that the Department of Defense does evaluate information of this type and determine if an AO exposure occurred. Should DOD conform past AO exposures, the US Department of Veterans Administration (VA) applies this designation in determining a service connected illness. ATSDR has forwarded your information to the VA and requested that it be forwarded to the appropriate office in DOD.

Your letter concluded in stating that VA will automatically deny any Agent Orange exposure claim by a veteran without service in Vietnam. The VA's website provides the presumptive service connection for AO has been extended to veterans deployed in the Korean Demilitarized Zone between April 1 1968 and August 31 1971. In addition, veterans involved in duty on or near the perimeters of military bases in Thailand may qualify for benefits. These veterans must show on a factual basis that they were exposed to herbicides between February 28 1961 and May 7 1975. 

The effort made by you and your colleagues to collect this information is remarkable. I greatly appreciate the service you and your colleagues have given our country. I believe the information you have provided should be carefully considered by the Department of Defense.


Chris Porter, Ph.D.
Director, National Center for Environmental Health, and
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry