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Agent Orange Update

Agent Orange Updates           Veteran Issue Updates July 2009           This Week in the Pentagon Video         Gulf War Syndrome          Gulf War Bulletin Board         Editorial 

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Agent Orange Updates


Agent Orange Pages  (1)  (2)  (3)  (4)  (5)  (6)  (7)  (8)  (9)  (10)  (11)  (12)   (13)  (14)

Page 1    Operation Ranch Hand Herbicides Southeast Asia--Amounts Used1961-1971"
Page 2    Diseases Linked To Agent Orange Exposure
Page 3    Agent Orange Korea 68-69
Page 4    Agent Orange Use Outside Of Vietnam
Page 5    The Forgotten Story of Agent Orange
Page 6    Monsanto Corporation Criminal Investigation Cover-up of Dioxin Contamination
Page 7    Leukemia, Agent Orange Link Found
Page 8    AO claim at Ft McClellan approved for Diabetes, and proliferative diabetic retinopathy
Page 9    Agent Orange, The Daughter Of A Veteran
Page 10  The Herbicidal Warfare Program In Vietnam, 1961 - 1971
Page 11  Agent Orange Videos
Page 12  Chemical Warfare Photos
Page 13  Monsanto's Agent Orange
Page 14  Veterans exposed To Chemicals  (Bases & Posts Contaminated)



Update#12/7/2014

VA has updated the list of ships that operated in Vietnam 12/2014

Find your ship

Ships or boats that were part of the Mobile Riverine Force, Inshore Fire Support (ISF) Division 93 or had one of the following designations operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam. Veterans whose military records confirm they were aboard these ships qualify for presumption of herbicide exposure.

During your Vietnam tour, did your ship or boat have one of the following designations?

  • AGP (Assault Group Patrol/Patrol Craft Tender)
  • LCM (Landing Craft, Mechanized)
  • LCU (Landing Craft, Utility)
  • LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel)
  • LST (Landing Ship, Tank)
  • PBR (Patrol Boat, River)
  • PCF (Patrol Craft, Fast or Swift Boat)
  • PG (Patrol Gunboat)
  • STABS (Strike Assault Boats)
  • WAK (Cargo Vessel)
  • WHEC (High Endurance Cutter)
  • WLB (Buoy Tender)
  • WPB (Patrol Boat)
  • YFU (Harbor Utility Craft)

Alphabetized ship list

If your vessel is not included in the Mobile Riverine Force, ISF Division 93 or above designations, check VA's alphabetized ship list.

- See more at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/shiplist/index.asp#sthash.yXOY8sMM.dpuf

 

Update#3/1/13

VA Expands Dates of Agent Orange Exposure in Korea from 1968-1969 to 1968-1971

Veterans who served along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Korea during the Vietnam War now have an easier path to access health care and benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expanded the dates when illnesses associated with exposure to Agent Orange can be presumed related to their military service Previously, VA recognized exposure for service between April 1968 and July 1969. VA now presumes exposure for service between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971, if a Veteran served in a unit determined by VA and the Department of Defense to have operated in an area of the DMZ where Agent Orange or other herbicides were applied. The expanded dates took effect on February 24, 2011 (see www.publichealth. va.gov/exposures/agentorange/korea.asp). This presumption simplifies and speeds the application process for Veterans of the Korean DMZ. VA encourages Veterans who believe they have health problems related to Agent Orange to submit their applications for VA health care and disability compensation benefits. • To apply for health care benefits, apply online at www.1010ez.med.va.gov/sec/vha/1010ez, or contact the nearest VA health care facility at 1-877-222-VETS (8387). • To file a claim for disability benefits, apply online at www.ebenefits.va.gov, or contact the nearest VA regional office at 1-800-827-1000. Veterans who served along the Korean DMZ may also be eligible for a free Agent Orange Registry health evaluation (see page 7) The regulation expanding the dates for eligible service in Korea is available on the Office of the Federal Register website at www.regulations. gov/#!documentDetail;D=VA-2009-VBA-0021-0007.

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AO claim at Ft McClellan approved for Diabetes, and proliferative diabetic retinopathy, or PDR as secondary to Diabetes

Decision Nr: 1108696
Decision Date: 03/04/11 Archive Date: 03/17/11

DOCKET NO. 09-16 193 ) DATE
)
)

On appeal from the
Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office in Nashville, Tennessee


THE ISSUES

1.
Entitlement to service connection for diabetes mellitus, type II, to include as due to herbicide exposure.

2.
Entitlement to service connection for bilateral proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), to include as secondary to diabetes mellitus.

3.
Entitlement to left lower extremity diabetic neuropathy, to include as secondary to diabetes mellitus.

4.
Entitlement to right lower extremity diabetic neuropathy, to include as secondary to diabetes mellitus.


REPRESENTATION

Appellant represented by: The American Legion


WITNESSES AT HEARING ON APPEAL

Appellant, Appellant's Spouse


ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD

W.H. Donnelly, Counsel


INTRODUCTION

T
he Veteran served on active duty with the United States Army from February 1969 to February 1971.

These matters come before the Board of Veterans' Appeals (Board) on appeal from April 2005 and January 2008 rating decisions by the Nashville, Tennessee, Regional Office (RO) of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The April 2005 rating decision denied service connection for type II diabetes mellitus. The Veteran filed a timely notice of disagreement (NOD) and a statement of the case (SOC) was issued in May 2006. The RO determined that no timely substantive appeal was received; a VA Form 9, Appeal to Board of Veterans' Appeals, was not received until November 2006, several months beyond the end of the appellate period. However, within 60 days of the issuance of the SOC, the Veteran submitted a request for a local hearing before a decision review officer. This is a clear indication of his intent to pursue his appeal, and is accepted as a substantive appeal in lieu of a formal Form 9. The issue has therefore been recharacterized to reflect that new and material evidence to reopen a previously denied claim is in fact not required; the current appeal arises from the original claim for benefits.

C
laims of service connection for PDR and lower extremity neuropathy were denied in the January 2008 rating decision. The issue with regard to neuropathy has been recharacterized to reflect the fact that each lower extremity is entitled to separate consideration and evaluation.

The Veteran and his wife testified at a November 2010 hearing held before the undersigned at the RO. A transcript of that hearing is of record.

This appeal has been advanced on the Board's docket pursuant to 38 C.F.R. § 20.900(c) (2010). 38 U.S.C.A. § 7107(a)(2) (West 2002).

The issues of service connection for left and right lower extremity neuropathy are addressed in the REMAND portion of the decision below and are REMANDED to the RO via the Appeals Management Center (AMC), in Washington, DC.


FINDINGS OF FACT

1.
The Veteran was exposed to herbicides while stationed at Fort McClellan, Alabama, in 1969.

2.
Type II diabetes is currently diagnosed.

3.
Currently diagnosed PDR is related to service connected diabetes mellitus, type II.


CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

1.
The criteria for service connection of diabetes mellitus, type II, have been met. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1110, 1113, 1116, 5107 (West 2002 & Supp. 2010); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303, 3.307, 3.309 (2010).

2.
The criteria for service connection of bilateral proliferative diabetic retinopathy have been met. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1110, 5107 (West 2002 & Supp. 2010); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303, 3.310 (2010).
REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION

I. VA's Duties to Notify and Assist

VA has a duty to notify and assist claimants in substantiating a claim for VA benefits. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 5100, 5102, 5103, 5103A, 5107, 5126; 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.156(a), 3.159 and 3.326(a). With respect to the issues decided here, the benefit sought on appeal is being granted in full. Accordingly, any error committed with respect to either the duty to notify or the duty to assist was harmless and will not be further discussed.

II. Service Connection

S
ervice connection will be granted if it is shown that the veteran suffers from a disability resulting from personal injury suffered or disease contracted in the line of duty, or for aggravation of a preexisting injury suffered or disease contracted in the line of duty, during active military service. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1110, 1131; 38 C.F.R. § 3.303.

Certain diseases may be presumed to have been incurred in service for Veterans exposed to herbicides, if they become manifest to a degree of ten percent or more within the applicable presumptive period. Type II diabetes mellitus is a listed disease for purposes of presumptive service connection. 38 U.S.C.A. § 1116; 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.307(a), 3.309(e). Diabetes may manifest at any time following exposure. 38 C.F.R. § 3.307(a)(6).

A disability which is proximately due to or the result of a service-connected disease or injury shall be service connected. When service connection is thus established for a secondary condition, the secondary condition shall be considered a part of the original condition. 38 C.F.R. § 3.310(a).

T
o establish service connection, there must be a competent diagnosis of a current disability; medical or, in certain cases, lay evidence of in-service occurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury; and competent evidence of a nexus between an in-service injury or disease and the current disability. Hickson v. West, 12 Vet. App. 247, 252 (1999); see Jandreau v. Nicholson, 492 F.3d 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

C
ompetent medical evidence is evidence provided by a person who is qualified through education, training, or experience to offer medical diagnoses, statements, or opinions. Competent medical evidence may also include statements conveying sound medical principles found in medical treatises. It also includes statements contained in authoritative writings, such as medical and scientific articles and research reports or analyses. 38 C.F.R. § 3.159(a)(1). Competent lay evidence is any evidence not requiring that the proponent have specialized education, training, or experience. Lay evidence is competent if it is provided by a person who has knowledge of facts or circumstances and conveys matters that can be observed and described by a lay person. 38 C.F.R. § 3.159(a)(2). This may include some medical matters, such as describing symptoms or relating a contemporaneous medical diagnosis. Jandreau v. Nicholson, 492 F.3d 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

I
n determining whether service connection is warranted for a disability, VA is responsible for determining whether the evidence supports the claim or is in relative equipoise, with the veteran prevailing in either event, or whether a preponderance of the evidence is against the claim, in which case the claim is denied. 38 U.S.C.A. § 5107; Gilbert v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 49 (1990). When there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence regarding any issue material to the determination, the benefit of the doubt is afforded the claimant.

A. Diabetes Mellitus

The competent and credible medical evidence of record clearly establishes a current diagnosis of type II diabetes mellitus. There is no dispute over this fact.

The Veteran contends that he was exposed to herbicides while stationed at Fort McClellan, Alabama, in 1969. Personnel records verify his presence at the base from May 1969 to December 1969, as a photographer.

He states that while photographing a training exercise during Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at a "Tiger Village" mock-up of a village in Vietnam, he repeatedly walked through an area that had been cleared using Agent Orange. He additionally alleges that Agent Orange was in widespread use around the base for weed control and landscaping, such as at the golf course. Finally, he states that Agent Orange (as well as Agents Blue and White) were present and being tested in the same building where he worked.

In a May 2010 response to VA inquiries, the Department of Defense (DoD) has certified that a "review of the DoD documentation does not show any use, testing or storage of tactical herbicides, such as Agent Orange, at any location in Alabama, to include Fort McClellan." The DoD also stated, however, that records would not reflect "small scale non-tactical herbicide applications" such as routine base maintenance activities like range management, brush clearing, or weed killing.

T
his certification excludes the possibility that Agent Orange was being tested in the same building where the Veteran worked; while other chemicals and compounds may have been used, it was not the required herbicide.

However, the DoD certification leaves open the possibility that herbicides may have been used in the manner described by the Veteran, to clear brush and weeds around the Tiger Village. Both the Veteran and his direct supervisor have stated that he was exposed to herbicides when photographing a training exercise. The basis for the supervisor's knowledge is unknown, but the Veteran relies upon reports made to him at the time by the officer in charge of the exercise, who told him Agent Orange had just been sprayed and they should stay out of certain areas.

That officer, whose specific identity cannot be determined, was in a position, with commensurate duties and responsibilities, to know what chemicals or substances were being used to maintain or prepare the training area. While it cannot be definitively ascertained whether Agent Orange was in fact the substance used in 1969 at Fort McClellan, all reasonable doubt must be resolved in favor of the Veteran. The Veteran's reports of the officer's statements are credible and competent evidence, and the officer was in the best position to identify the substance. The evidence of record establishes that the Veteran was at least as likely as not exposed to herbicides during service. This finding is limited to the specific facts and allegations of this case.

A number of treating doctors, both private and VA, have stated that the Veteran's currently diagnosed diabetes is related to that herbicide exposure. There is no opinion or evidence contrary to that conclusion, and so the presumption of service connection for type II diabetes mellitus in herbicide exposed Veterans is not rebutted.

Accordingly, service connection for type II diabetes mellitus is warranted.

B. Retinopathy

VA and private ophthalmological records reveal a current diagnosis of bilateral proliferative diabetic retinopathy, or PDR. All doctors relate this condition to diabetes mellitus; there is no contrary evidence.

As the preponderance of the evidence establishes that currently diagnosed PDR is causally related to now service connected diabetes, service connection for PDR on a secondary basis is warranted.


ORDER

Service connection for diabetes mellitus, type II, is granted.

Service connection for bilateral PDR is granted.


REMAND

The Veteran has alleged that he experiences numbness and tingling of both lower extremities, which he attributes to diabetic neuropathy. Although VA treatment records indicate a current diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy at several points, and VA doctors repeatedly refer to such in medical histories, there is actually no clear examination, evaluation, and diagnosis of such reflected in the record. Doctors specifically addressing his neurological complaints report only that they are "likely secondary to diabetes." Some neurology evaluations fail to specifically diagnose any condition of the extremities, and others refer to the possibility of radiation of pain from the back.

I
t is therefore unclear whether there is actually a current diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy. On remand, examination is required to clarify the diagnosis.

Further, the Veteran has informed VA that he is in receipt of Social Security disability payments. The records relied upon in support of that grant are potentially relevant to the claim and must be obtained.

Accordingly, the case is REMANDED for the following action:

(This appeal has been advanced on the Board's docket pursuant to 38 C.F.R. § 20.900(c) (2010). Expedited handling is required.)

1. Schedule the Veter

2.
Contact the Social Security Administration and obtain all medical records utilized in determining the Veteran's entitlement to disability benefits. If such are unavailable, written certification of such is required.

3.
Review the claims file to ensure that all of the foregoing requested development is completed, and arrange for any additional development indicated. Then readjudicate the claims on appeal. If either of the benefits sought remain denied, issue an appropriate SSOC and provide the veteran and his representative the requisite period of time to respond. The case should then be returned to the Board for further appellate review, if otherwise in order. No action is required of the appellant unless he is notified.

The appellant has the right to submit additional evidence and argument on the matters the Board has remanded. Kutscherousky v. West, 12 Vet. App. 369 (1999).


This claim must be afforded expeditious treatment. The law requires that all claims that are remanded by the Board of Veterans' Appeals or by the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims for additional development or other appropriate action must be handled in an expeditious manner. See 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 5109B, 7112 (West Supp. 2010).

*****************************

 

VA's new Agent Orange presumptions will increase Vietnam
Veteran's benefits almost twenty percent


VA Begins Paying Benefits for New Agent Orange Claims

11/2/2010

An official news release is tied up in the Veterans Affairs Washington, DC press office but Tom Philpott's Military Update gives excellent early coverage.

A "VA policyfast letter has been sent to all VA regional offices noting new claims can begin to be developed but there may be a five month delay until the new ruling is published, trained for and distributed. In the past, the Services have criticized VA as slow to develop training programs, and this seems to be the case again.

The Services will have to gear up for additional Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) applications while DFAS processes complex retroactive payments to retirees and widows. However coordination between the Pentagon who developed service guidance to DFAS has not started.

Expect the Veterans Benefit Association to expand it's outreach and support staff to coordinate the implementation of this significant ruling. The Pentagon, Defense Finance and Accounting (DFAS) and the Services are all impacted with this new ruling.

Many Vietnam Veterans with retiree status will also be eligible for tax exempt Combat Related Special Compensation of up to $3000 monthly, in the case of 100% agent Orange disability including retroactive back pay.

Coordination with The Pentagon is often a problem, so expect year long delay in retiree CRSC payments. Thousands stationed in Vietnam could be eligible.

Three conditions – B cell leukemia's, Parkinson's disease and ischemic heart disease, are now considered to be associated with Agent Orange exposure.

The VA expects 185,000 more Vietnam Vets will qualify for $50B more in benefits. Heart disease alone will amount to a 14B increase in benefits. The cost estimates were divulged by an OMB official.

Both Vietnam Veterans and their spouses will be eligible for awards, including retroactive DIC payments and back pay in accordance with the recent Nehmer court decision.

About 86,000 claims previously denied by the VA before 1985 will be revisited, and $14B is expected to be paid related to heart disease.

Widows or widowers with claims denied in the past whose spouse’s death was contributed to (or caused by) what is now a presumptive Agent Orange illness can re-open their DIC claims requesting that either they be awarded DIC—if denied in the past—and be awarded retro DIC back to the date of the veteran’s death.

Many older rating decisions precluding many agent orange related claims may now receive retroactive awards back to the date the disability was first approved by the VA.

Many payments will have to be processed by DFAS and most are eligible for CRSC awards.

We expect the VA to announce a new policy soon. The rules are crafted to avoid compensation backlogs and increased benefit exams. For example, a personal family physician's letter will be allowed for the three newly approved agent orange conditions.

Previously approved conditions for which Vietnam War veterans receive compensation, including prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, soft-tissue sarcomas, Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

Veterans who served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 will qualify for monthly disability compensation and do not have to provide proof they were exposed to Agent Orange.

NAUS is positioned to assist its members and new members in applying for this under simplified rules, soon to be officially announced by the VA. 

In order to assist with claims backlog and new exams the VA will accept letters from family physicians supporting claims for Agent Orange related conditions. Thousands of widows whose husbands died of Agent Orange disabilities will benefit to retroactive benefits and back pay, as well as DIC payments.

Both VBA and VHA expect to be deluged by this increase in new claims and NAUS encourages its members and potential new members to use the NAUS staff, assisted by NAUS board member Win Reither to stay tuned for updates, as well as progress reports of the VA claims handling.

New Agent Orange Claims Payment Delay?

6/8/10 - An Oct 2009 decision by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, GEN, USA (Ret), added ischemic heart disease, Parkinson's disease, and B-cell leukemia to the department’s list of presumptive conditions for veterans exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam (see story below). VA planned to publish final regulations on the new presumptive diseases already, but that action is still under review. And by law, Congress has 60 days to examine Shinseki’s decision as well. Now the Senate appears to be taking a more cautious approach against what some perceive as excess spending on a potential new wave of Agent Orange claims, citing concerns that “based on modest scientific evidence, VA could be paying claims on diseases that a large proportion of any population will contract through normal aging." A provision in the Senate version of H.R. 4899, the FY 2010 war supplemental funding bill, would set aside funding for this expansion until the 60-day congressional review is complete. The House must still agree with the Senate’s changes to H.R. 4899

New Gulf War, Iraq/Afghanistan War Presumptive Conditions

3/19/10 – Based on a recommendation by the Gulf War Veterans Illness Task Force, the VA has proposed a regulation change that names nine conditions or diseases as “presumptive” due to service in the Persian Gulf War, and for the first time, the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Presumptive status means that veterans with such conditions only need show that they served in the conflicts/areas included for their condition to be deemed service-connected, usually resulting in access to additional VA health care or compensation benefits. "We recognize the frustrations that many Gulf War and Afghanistan veterans and their families experience on a daily basis as they look for answers to health questions and seek benefits from VA," Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a statement. The nine conditions/ diseases are malaria, West Nile Virus, brucellosis, campylobacter jejuni, coxiella burnetii, mycobacterium tuberculosis, nontyphoid salmonella, shigella and visceral leishmaniasis.

 

Health Topics: Cancer

Content provided by: Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return Study finds vets at higher risk of aggressive recurrence only 8 months after surgery--

Update #1.

Robert Preidt

THURSDAY, April 23, 09 (Health Day News) --

U.S. male military veterans exposed to the Agent Orange herbicide/defoliant are at increased risk for aggressive recurrence of prostate cancer, a new study finds.

It included 1,495 veterans who'd had surgery to remove cancerous prostates. Of those, the 206 men who'd been exposed to Agent Orange were nearly 50 percent more likely to develop an aggressive recurrence of their cancer, even though their disease seemed relatively non-aggressive at the time of surgery.

The study also found it took only eight months for prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels -- an indicator of cancer aggressiveness -- to double among the Agent Orange-exposed veterans with recurrent cancer, compared to more than 18 months among non-exposed veterans.

The study is published in the May issue of the British Journal of Urology International. "There is something about the biology of these cancers that are associated with prior Agent Orange exposure that is causing them to be more aggressive.

We need to get the word out," study corresponding author Dr. Martha Terris, chief of urology at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta and professor of urology at the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine, said in a school news release. She said doctors treating prostate cancer patients who've been exposed to Agent Orange need to be aware that these patients may require closer monitoring and so-called salvage therapy quickly if their prostate cancer returns.
"Not only are their recurrence rates higher, but their cancers are coming back and growing much faster when they do come back," Terris said.

There's increasing evidence that exposure to Agent Orange, which was used during the Vietnam War, increases the risk for a number of health problems. Agent Orange contained a known carcinogen called dioxin, which is also found in herbicides and pesticides used by U.S. farmers, according to background information in the news release about the study.

More information: The American Cancer Society has more about prostate cancer. SOURCE: Medical College of Georgia, news release, April 20, 2009.

Update #2

July, 09

Al Amlyloidosis Added To Agent Orange Presumptive Disabilities

The Department of Veterans Affairs has added Al amyloidosis to the list of presumptive service-connected disease associated with the exposure to certain herbicide agents, including Agent Orange. A recent Institute of Medicine report on Agent Orange found a positive association between the disease and exposure to herbicides used in the Vietnam War.  As a result, the VA has amended regulations to grant presumptive service -connection.  The rule also applies to previously denied claims of AL armyloidosis submitted by Vietnam veterans. AL armyloidosis is a rate plasma cell disorder which originates in bone marrow and is usually treated with chemotherapy. Is  the most common type of armydoidosis in the U.S.,with an estimated 2,000 cases diagnosed each year. 

The disease results when protein build up in one or more organs causes malfunction.  The heart, kidneys, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract are most often affected. Although AL armyloisdosis is not cancer, it is very serious and disabling or life-threatening. It joins the list of 11 other presumptively service-connection conditions recognized in Vietnam veterans. 

They include choracne; Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; soft tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma,chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, or mesotheloma); Hodgkin's disease; porphyria cutanea tarda; multiple myeloma; respiratory cancers, including cancers of tghe lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus; prostate cancer; acute and subacute transient peripheral neuopathy; Type 2 diabetes; and chronic lymphocystic leukemia.
For additional information, please contact your nearest National Service Office.


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