Agent Orange is a nasty herbicide. It is so bad that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) finally decided to provide healthcare and disability benefits to veterans who were exposed to it during their tour(s) in Vietnam. But recently, the VA has reported that all Air Force and Army military personnel either involved with or stationed at military bases located in Thailand, between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975, may have also been exposed to Agent Orange. The specific bases are named in the report.
The VA says that
To receive benefits for diseases associated with herbicide exposure, these Veterans must show on a factual basis that they were exposed to herbicides during their service as shown by evidence of daily work duties, performance evaluation reports, or other credible evidence.
The diseases most commonly associated with exposure to Agent Orange include the following:
Type II Diabetes
Ischemic Heart Disease
Soft Tissue Sarcoma
CLL and other B-cell Leukemias
Lung and other Respiratory Cancers
Here’s the kicker on why the VA made this change to allow Thai vets receive their disability benefits. They were forced to. Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick (CCK) is a legal firm that provides service to veterans seeking VA benefits. They
Forced VA to make public the (2015) memorandum used to deny many Thailand veterans’ claims based upon exposure to Agent Orange and/or herbicides. The document shows why the VA has continued to deny Thailand veterans disability benefits based upon Agent Orange exposure.
This was very strange because of two facts. One, a declassified Department of Defense report written in 1973, suggested that there was a significant use of herbicides on the fenced-in perimeters of military bases in Thailand to remove foliage that provided cover for enemy forces. And two, Wikipedia reported
Agent Orange was tested by the United States in Thailand during the war in Southeast Asia. Buried drums were uncovered and confirmed to be Agent Orange in 1999. Workers who uncovered the drums fell ill while upgrading the airport near Hua Hin District, 100 km south of Bangkok.
Regardless of the history behind this fiasco, the VA has finally included disability payments and other benefits to Thailand vets along with Vietnam vets. And that is a good thing.
Please note that veterans or their families do not need to contact CCK to receive benefits from the VA. All anyone needs to do is go to the VA website and follow the information provided there.
And finally, not widely known is that other military personnel may have been exposed to Agent Orange in places other than Vietnam and Thailand. This includes places where tests were made on the substance or where it may have been stored on military bases – including those here in the U.S.
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