23 September 2016

Hanscom AFB C-123 Maintenance Vet Gets Agent Orange Claim Corrected

Problem Solved. I received a message a few minutes ago that Joe Collins' cancer claim, at first denied, was corrected by senior VA leadership.

A few days ago I noticed a decision by the BVA about a veteran claiming C-123 Agent Orange exposure while a mechanic at Hanscom AFB back in the early '1970's – but his claim was denied and his appeal also denied! The vet's name was withheld but we tracked him down though Andy's Old Guys Network...Joe Collins.

VA had lots of text detailing Joe's service as an ART, and explained that such duty didn't convey veteran status for the period of his exposure. The denial also noted his Reserve duty, but still nothing triggered recognition of his benefits per the VA C-123 Interim Final Rule of June 2015. That made all post-Vietnam C-123 aircrews and maintenance folks veterans per the statute if claiming any recognized Agent Orange illnesses.

(Note 23 Sept 2016: VA leadership resolved this thru BVA, and Joe's claim is being expedited! Problem solved, but still a question left unanswered – how could the Boston regional claims office and the Boston BVA have screwed this up so completely?)

Thanks to our community of C-123 veterans, we were able to identify the C-123 vet whose claim was so terribly screwed up. Joe Collins is our guy, and today I had the pleasure of speaking with Joe and his wife.

We got his name and SSAN to authorities in VA to reconsider his claim and June 2016 denial.

Let's hope VA moves on this one: Joe's claim dates from 2007!

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