07 April 2015

C-123 Agent Orange exposure claim awarded – here are the details

In November the Boston VA Regional Office held a Decision Review Officer hearing for a C-123 veteran from Westover AFB, MA. The claim was decided in his favor for all Agent Orange-recognized illnesses, and a copy of the VA' decision is posted HERE.

Yale School of Law deserves great credit for this victory, and thanks are due them and the many vets who personally appeared to give evidence for this veteran. It probably didn't hurt that the veteran's story was carried as a front page story in the Sunday edition of the Boston Globe.

Key point: The VA conceded the veterans' Agent Orange exposure at Westover AFB, where his squadron flew the former Agent Orange UC-123 aircraft. The decision closely parallels that of LtCol Paul Bailey's 2013 award from the Manchester NH VA Regional Office.

Although both veterans flew the same airplane, the same days, performing the same duties as others who've made claims, these are the only two awards made in favor of the veterans and all other claims have been ordered denied by VA's Compensation and Pension Service. I note that both claims were for men I flew with and trained on the C-123, but my claim and others like mine remain denied.

VA decisions, even those by Decision Review Officers and the Board of Veterans Appeals, have no effect on other claims, regardless of how parallel the situations. Here, one veteran's claim for exposure aboard his C-123  is awarded while another on the same airplane is denied.

Perhaps VA finds no discomfort in contrary situations such as this. I also note that my request for DRO (claim submitted 3/2011, denied 9/2012) was made in 2012 and still has not been acted upon in over two years, while the attached claim requested DRO in March and received the hearing in November of 2014.

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