22 October 2013

USAF Refuses to Designate C-123s as "Agent Orange Exposure Sites"

"Not our job," can be the summation of the USAF response to veterans' request to designate the toxic C-123 aircraft as "Agent Orange Exposure Sites." Go try the VA, was the decision by DCS/Logistics, Installations and Mission Support and Lieutenant General Judith Fedder.

Although all C-123s were destroyed back in June 2010 in special operations due to their confirmed dioxin contamination, veterans flew and were exposed aboard these warplanes for a decade after the Vietnam War. Concerned, and rebuffed by the VA which refused them medical care, the veterans asked the VA to consider in retrospect designating the known spray planes as exposure sites to permit claims to progress. Thus, veterans proving duty aboard these C-123s might progress in their claims for VA medical care for Agent Orange-associated illnesses.

Predictably, VA refused, referring the problem to the Air Force. So the veterans eventually identified the AF office with responsibility, and has recently also been refused their help. "Not our job," claim both AF and VA. Her letter is below, and our letter requesting reconsideration hasn't been answered.

Because of their known history of spraying Agent Orange, and because of the decades of AF-confirmed tests establishing their dioxin contamination, these aircraft are clearly covered by the language of both agencies' dealings with Agent Orange Exposure Sites. Because the CDC/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the National Institutes of Health/National Toxicology Program concur both with the contamination and the veterans' exposure, it begs the question what leads the AF to disagree?

We have absolutely no doubt that LtGen Fedder and her troops would storm the barricades to protect any active duty troop from potential harm. Like the School of Aerospace Medicine, that's their mission and their dedication can be assumed and relied upon. 

What we find disappointing is the failure of DCS/Logistics, Installations and Mission Support to consider any reasonable, merely administrative retroactive steps to make right earlier mistakes...mistakes such as AFMC and the AF Surgeon deciding not to notify already-exposed C-123 veterans that we'd had a decade of service aboard toxic airplanes!

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