The VA has since modified it’s original stance on Agent Orange from the days one had to prove he or she was in an area where Agent Orange was stored, sprayed in country. Now they just require that you establish that you were in country which should be reflected on your DD 214. They don’t ask where you were or when, they say if you stepped one foot in Vietnam for an hour you are presumed to have been exposed to the dioxins that made up Agent Orange period. My first experience with the VA when they first divulged what Agent Orange was all about and it’s serious health issues back in the mid 70’s I went to the Federal Building in San Francisco and obtained a form to file a claim. Filled it out and sent it in with a copy of my DD 214. About 6 weeks later I got a short curt form letter that stated I was never stationed near Agent Orange, where it was stored nor in an area where it was sprayed. I was so disgusted and pissed off I tore up that letter and burned it in a rage. Stupid on my part looking back since that letter was my only proof to show what a cover up it was. I was stationed at Phu Cat AFB in the Central Highlands. Phu Cat was the staging area for operation Ranch Hand for the Central Highlands. Not only that but it was stored there and I even had to stand guard over it. While on Security Alert Team Patrol (SAT) I also had to guard a two man Army unit who sprayed our entire fence line for four days since they were un armed. Lesson here is if you were in Vietnam period and you have any doubts about how you developed some odd illness for some unknown reason, file a claim. First of all they have to at least give you an exam and the examiner will write his or her report which will in turn be placed in your file, be it good bad or indifferent. Also keep in mind regardless of the number of claims you have submitted you are not to be examined by the same examiner more than once. It is done to prevent nepotism. I had it happen to me one time in the Boston VA Med center and it was to my disadvantage since the examiner was a serious A HOLE and twice he wrote up bad reports and I was denied for both claims. I should have told him the second time to get out and send another examiner in but I was naïve then. Eventually after appeals I was later granted for most of my claims filed garnering 100% service connect Disability. Took me several years of appeals but I finally prevailed. The biggest part of my problem was some Moron at the VA miss labeled another VET’s claim as mine. Had my name, and file number on it and they sent it to me to take with me when I reported for my exam for my heart. When I read the file it was for injuries I received in a parachute Jump in Germany in 1944 that left me un able to stand without assistance nor walk at all and was confined to a wheel chair due to my painful arthritis, which was why I filed a claim for disability. I went with the file down to the local town VA rep and showed it to him looking for him to correct this obvious mistake. He looked me up and down and said “Well has your name on it, and your file number so must be you!” I almost punched him for being so stupid. I did all I could to correct the problem on my own but the VA in Boston pretty much took everything I filed as a lie and fraud after that for years. They never said so but every time I filed a claim it was continually denied but I kept filing appeal after appeal. I will say in defense of the Boston VA Hospital it is the busiest VA in the country. The list of current illness’s recognized by the VA as a result of exposure to Dioxins that make up Agent Orange are as follows,,,,,( Taken from the VA Website) AL Amyloidosis,,Acute & SubacuteTransient Peripherial Neuropathy,,Chlorance or other Acneform Disease consistent with Chloracne ,,Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (now being expanded),,Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2),, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,,Porphyria Cutanea Tarda,,Prostate Cancer,, Respiratory Cancers (cancer of the lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea) ,,Soft Tissue Sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kapsosi’s sarcoma or Mesothelioma,,,,,just added in 2010,,,B Cell Leukemias such as Hairy Cell Leukemia,,Parkinson’s desease and Ischemic Heart Disease.
That is what the VA has on their AO List of illnesses. That does not automatically mean you will receive compensation if you have one or more of those listed and you file for same. I know people who have filed for several of those listed and denied Dis. Why? Probably the same reason I was told I was confined to a wheel chair after I had a bad parachute landing in Germany in 1944 even though I wasn’t born until two years later. Just don’t throw your hands up in the air and go F it. Sit down and file an appeal and do some research for new medical info to add to the appeal. I have always said that if one can garner a letter from a Doctor confirming that your exposure to Agent Orange was a direct result of your illness would be the Golden Egg so to speak. Not true. I had a Doctor supply me with just such a letter back in 2006 and they ignored it. Same with a friend of mine who developed a Brain C and died from it. His Doctors stated his Tumor was a direct result from exposure to Dioxins found in the makeup of Agent Orange. He was denied. His widow refused to file an appeal. Had she filed her appeals I have no doubt she would have won the award for him which would have been 100% Service connect. She would have collected his back payment and then 65% to 63% of his award for the rest of her life. Another one filed for Prostate C and was denied. He didn’t know he should file an appeal and time expired on his appeal. I encourage anyone and everyone to file if you ever were near Agent Orange any time anywhere, be it on a ship in transit, on an Island for storage, say Okinawa, the Philippines you name it or on an aircraft flying it in. Especially if you have Diabetes 2!! FILE PERIOD!!! They had to get it there some way so file. You didn’t have to be in Vietnam to be exposed to Agent Orange!!!