17 January 2013

Three C-123 Agent Orange Claims Approved!

A careful search for Board of Veterans Appeals decisions has revealed two C-123 veterans who succeeded in appealing their denied claims for Agent Orange exposure! (click for a copy)

One of these veterans was at Rickenbacker (with, somehow, two BVA decisions about his claim) and one at Hanscom with the 731st TAS. The Hanscom vet worked on our C-123s between 1972-1973, before the squadron moved to Westover.

So we have two exactly parallel situations where veterans just like us succeeded in their claims. Initially denied at their local VA offices, the men appealed and were successful at the Board of Veterans Appeals. And actually, we now have much more evidence to support our claims than was available back when these cases were decided.

While this brings some logic to other VA rating officers (ROs), BVA decisions are not precedent-setting. Some veterans experts even suggest not bothering submitting such similar cases, but here I think we have such identical situations as these winning cases, we should copy them to our local offices. If you are working through a veterans service officer such as the VFW or DAV, provide to them.

We must question why LtCol Aaron (Tim) Olmsted of the 731st didn't have this same documentation when his case was denied. At Tim's BVA hearing, his claim was denied solely because "the veteran failed to prove the airplanes he flew were the same airplanes used in Vietnam for spraying Agent Orange, or that the planes he flew were  flown in Vietnam." As the American Legion represented both him and the Hanscom veteran, that also leaves me wondering why that huge organization failed to submit the necessary proofs for Tim...everything was readily available on the Internet!

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