US Board of Veterans Appeals in 2011 remanded a veteran's claim which had been denied by the VA, ordering the VA to reexamine immediately, very likely to finally be in favor of the veteran given the language used by the BVA. The vet was a photographer stationed at Ft McClellan, and claimed to have been in areas where Agent Orange was used. VA denied his Agent Orange-presumtive illnesses claim with their usual position that this vet hadn't been in Vietnam and couldn't prove either proximity to military herbicides or exposure to them. Supporting his claim were statements from his supervisor that they'd both been in areas of Agent Orange spraying, such as the golf course, even though the Department of Defense denied such herbicides were used. Further, several details letters from his doctors confirmed the likely association of the illnesses with exposure to Agent Orange, and these were not rebutted by the VA.
VA inquired of DOD about stateside use of herbicides. In their denial of Agent Orange use at Ft. McClellan, DOD stated it MAY have been possible some small areas MAY have been treated with Agent Orange. That wiggle-room was enough to convince the Board of Veterans Appeals that the VA must resolve any question about exposure in favor of the veteran, and the fellow's claim was sent back with specific instructions for expedited investigation.
This is great news. It breaks through the VA's barrier of flat prohibition against successful AO claims outside Vietnam. For C-123 vets, it means even more careful attention must be given our claims by local rating officers.
One solid suggestion from this particular case is that our claims need to be supported with physician statements that our Agent Orange-presumptive illness are indeed, "more likely than not" associated with exposure to Agent Orange. Without such a statement, the doctor's letter merely has weight as to whether or not you have a particular malady.
Click HERE to download a copy of this landmark decision.