Study confirms air crews’ exposure to Agent Orange

Study confirms air crews’ exposure to Agent Orange
(U.S. Air Force photo)

The American Legion has announced its support for extending Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits eligibility to veterans who were exposed to aircraft that had previously sprayed Agent Orange over Vietnam during the war.

The Legion’s support is based on a study published Feb. 21 in the scientific journal Environmental Research: "Post-Vietnam Military Herbicide Exposures in UC-123 Agent Orange Spray Aircraft." The study reports that environmental testing of such aircraft revealed traces of dioxin levels above Department of Defense (DoD) standards for maximum permissible exposure to poisonous chemicals.

U.S. Air Force and VA policies do not currently recognize "dried residues" of herbicide and dioxin as harmful.

Based on recent surface wipes and airborne concentration tests, occupational health researchers have concluded that inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption of dioxin and Agent Orange occurred in crews who came in contact with the spray aircraft after the Vietnam War.

"The Legion is committed to ensuring that veterans receive the benefits they deserve," American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said. "We will work with Congress and the VA to promptly designate C-123K aircraft as Agent Orange exposure sites, thereby qualifying veterans who worked with these planes to be eligible for Agent Orange-related benefits."

According to Dr. Jeanne Mager Stellman, professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the study "should provide the evidence needed for post-Vietnam veterans to receive the same health treatment as in-country veterans. They need and deserve it." Stellman is senior author of the study.

The American Legion and Stellman worked together in the early 1980s to prove that adverse health conditions among Vietnam War veterans was linked to Agent Orange exposure, establishing a link that authorizes VA compensation and health care for those veterans.

In 1983, the Legion sponsored an independent study by Columbia University that established the effects of exposure to Agent Orange on Vietnam War veterans. Congress received the results of the "American Legion-Columbia University Study of Vietnam-era Veterans" in 1989.

The Legion and Stellman have continued to fight for changes that include, in a 2010 decision, ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and B-cell leukemia among conditions presumed to be connected to Agent Orange. The Legion has also fought to expand eligibility beyond those who served only with "boots on the ground" during the Vietnam War, including "blue-water" veterans exposed to the defoliant on U.S. Navy vessels and U.S Air Force crews who handled it.

In August 2012, the Legion passed Resolution 128 to mitigate legal problems for the more than 1,500 veterans who must prove they suffer health problems associated with herbicide exposure.

Click here for a slide show and synopsis of the report.

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j. caparaso

March 12, 2014 - 4:07pm

What about all the maint. people working around aircraft revetments where AO Was sprayed constantly for vegetation control. Weeds didn't die by themselves.

Sandra A. Black

March 6, 2014 - 8:10pm

My husband died 1/27/2014 of paroid adenocarcinoma that spread to his brains,lungs, hips and bones. VA treated him so bad now I will fight for his rights. He had a triple bypass on 1/10/2012 3 months later they said he had cancer.

cameron3030

March 5, 2014 - 1:42am

My name is Troy Martin, married to Barbara Dellinge Martin from St Albans Wv. She is wondering if she is the same Dellinger family The commander. Her father's name was Ray Dellinger, who's fathers name was Edgar. If there is any way we could find out, we would like to know. I am a new member. Troy B. Martin Palm Bay Fl.32905

samuel phillps

March 3, 2014 - 3:22pm

fighting the va for 10 years now with another denial just received, astated with a legion service office ,who knew less than I did had to give him the info on the window given afew years ago, nothing done, I am really trying to out live the denials. so far lost my right leg and on dyalicys heart problems, oyu name it, nothing done. So I am blue water navy,showed them the v.a. what and how expoisure happened nothing done again. It is time for the legion to step up and so something rather than give us a bone once in a while.

bob

February 28, 2014 - 10:06pm

i was exposed in okinnowa in 1970 1971 while station at camp forster when they were spraying the whole camp to get rid of vegetaion and i am all screwed up also i drank the water at camp lejeune for 2 years i have had all tytpes of cancers over the years i have been fighting with the va for 8 years to get what i feel i deserve from them

David Morken

February 28, 2014 - 11:01am

!969 - 1970 I have suffered from neuropathy since 1971. My left foot is dead. My left leg is so skinny it looks like a peg. I have no muscle in any of my extremities. I have no stability. Within the next year I will give up walking, it's just tough. The pain on a scale 0f 1 to 10, 10 being the worst ranges from 7 to 9. SUCKS

Larry Comer

February 28, 2014 - 10:05am

missed the o in my name

Andy Csordas

February 28, 2014 - 10:03am

I was a cryto tech on Tan Son Nhut. We mostly worked on ARVN equipment including KL-7's that were covered with dried AO and dirt. We also repaired the KY-38's that were carried on the grunts backs, they were covered with dirt, etc. when they cam e to the shop as well. When doing the AO screening at the VA they checked off "Worked in Office".

James E. Sims

February 28, 2014 - 9:51am

Was assigned to the 19th Air Commando Squadron in NAM. We were next door to the 309th Ranch Hands Squadron and interacted with them on a daily basis. As an Aircrew Loadmaster We routinely flew C-123 airframes that were converted back to cargo configurations. I am presently being treated for prostrate problems but have not filed with the VA at this time. My Viet Nam tour was 1965-1966.

peter thomas

February 28, 2014 - 4:59am

I was exposed to agent ogange and all the herbasides that were used to lower the vegetation also used it to get rid of waste when I first arrived in Vietnam as a detail I am receiving 60% disability for Islamic heart condition but have perephial neuropathy which the V.A. claims was not an issue as they claim 48 hours after leaving country it should have cleared up what a joke they should have to live through what I am going through. Thank you for letting me vent.

Larry Cmer

February 28, 2014 - 10:02am

I also live with the pain of neuropathy,but since I did not report it with in a year of discharge,to bad,what kid would think that years later that foot that fell asleep would lead to this

Larry Comer

February 28, 2014 - 10:12am

Mr.Stellman and the Legion need to look into this and get it right. I have spoke to many vets that have neuropathy and did not report it within a year.It can and dose show up years later.

O.WAYNE MOUAT

February 27, 2014 - 9:44pm

I worked on SkyRaiders although not directly spraying Agent Orange, they certainly flew thru the areas that were sprayed as was proven by the small arms bullet holes I patched in the aircraft and the elephant grass I dug out of wheel wells. I have had Parkinsons since 1997. I have put two claims in since Parkinsons was linked to agent Orange exposure.. Both claims have been denied. Yet, I was working on the aircraft in Theater while on the USS Intrepid in 1967, at the height of those operations.

Gary Guymon

February 27, 2014 - 8:45pm

And what about the crews on the CVA's out on xray and zebra that refuled are rearmed the fighters and bombers that flew through AO and then were handled by these crews. Also, the deck crews on thre AOE's, AE's,and AKA's that supported the CVA's

Elizabeth Rushing

February 27, 2014 - 8:03pm

My husband was in Viet Nam in 67-68 and was in small arms maintance unit handles and repaired all the amno and guns. He passed away with bladder cancer and it was related to agent orange

Clarence McGee

February 27, 2014 - 7:43pm

How about the C130 crews that transported Agent Orange to In-Country while it was still in a raw stage (before it was mixed) and readied for spray...

Mrs. Gerald Minihan

February 27, 2014 - 7:18pm

My husband flew in the C-123's when they came back from Nam. On a hot day he said, you could smell AO. He died in Jan., 2011, of prostate cancer. There was no cancer in his family tree. We battled it for 12 years.

W.K. Gardner.

February 27, 2014 - 7:14pm

How about veterans stationed in the US. such as Eglin Air Force base. Handled the the drums that held agent orange also worked in areas sprayed. The agent orange orange was tested there and sprayed. Iam having trouble getting compensated, heart and diabetic disease.

Steve Gentle

February 27, 2014 - 7:10pm

What about those that were on R&R in Thailand that were right near the borders of the countries that were sprayed with AO, they were also exposed, as was I, I have type 2 diabetes, I was on R&R twice in Thailand near the border in Utopa and Bangkok, I submitted a claim and was systematically denied also, our government is fighting right here at home against us than in Afganistan. I was not in country in Vietnam but, I was right on the border. I feel so betrayed.

Steve Gentle

February 27, 2014 - 7:27pm

Sorry but, I had to make some corrections to my previous comment. What about those that were on R&R in Thailand that were right near the borders of the countries that were sprayed with AO, they were also exposed, as well as I,I have type 2 diabetes which is a presumptive condition of AO. I was on R&R twice in Thailand near the border I Utopa and I was also in Bangkok twice, I submitted a claim and was systematically denied also. Our government is fighting harder here against us right here at home than in Afghanistan. I was not in country in Vietnam but, I was right on the border. I feel so betrayed.

David Conley

February 27, 2014 - 6:40pm

I served in Thailand on Ubon where AO was used and I too was denied my claim because I was not in country (VN). I am preparing to appeal my claim. WHY is this a standard reason.

Tim Franklin

April 8, 2014 - 10:51am

You should appeal. Some of these claims are getting granted. I m on my way to OK to argue a case for a Veterna that was at Udorn. I have studied the Udon base as well. I am a private attorney that represents Vets against the VA. I would be more than happy to talk to you for free about your case. Call me at 303-449-4773 or find our website online, I work for Sean Kendall a quick search will get you to our site.

Rick Morrow

February 27, 2014 - 5:29pm

I think this is terrific news for our brothers who served in this era. There are also others who served at other posts around the country and world exposed to toxins and chemicals that need to be helped as well. ( HR 411, not sure of the newest title of bill) Thanks AL.

John Wise

February 27, 2014 - 5:27pm

I was exposed to Agent Orange while working on C-130 aircraft while assigned to the 432nd Field Maintenance Squadron in Udorn Thiland (69/70). I was placed on the Agent Orange roster after a medical exam conducted at the Denver VA Hospital. My case was forwarded to the VA and was not approved indicating I was a era vet and never served in theater. My case is under appeal which I was told may take as long as 3.5 years. Apparently my DD214 was not stamped as serving in Vietnam. If the VA would have looked at my citations it specifically shows me being awarded Vietnam Service and Campain medals.

John Wise

February 27, 2014 - 5:27pm

I was exposed to Agent Orange while working on C-130 aircraft while assigned to the 432nd Field Maintenance Squadron in Udorn Thiland (69/70). I was placed on the Agent Orange roster after a medical exam conducted at the Denver VA Hospital. My case was forwarded to the VA and was not approved indicating I was a era vet and never served in theater. My case is under appeal which I was told may take as long as 3.5 years. Apparently my DD214 was not stamped as serving in Vietnam. If the VA would have looked at my citations it specifically shows me being awarded Vietnam Service and Campain medals.

Tom M Tuy Hoa '69

February 27, 2014 - 5:16pm

I just turned 71,too little too late. Lived next to Ranch Hand marshaling area.

arturo garcia jr.

February 27, 2014 - 4:24pm

what you are doing is great. I have a friend here in town who altough did not to nam , handled and cleaned the aircraft once they they returned to home bases in U S,they washed the planes do the agents were now wet again. consequently he is suffering as bad as those of who were boots on ground. He gets care through VA but has no rating aproved. what a shame

George E LeFebvre

February 27, 2014 - 3:39pm

The VA should include any Veterans who were in the entire combat zone area where these pesticides were used. I know they sprayed that stuff over a lot of areas and many more Veterans were certainly exposed then our Government will admit to.

Gary Bas

February 24, 2014 - 2:27pm

The A.O LAW says "herbicidal agents", which are Dioxin and Trichloroethylene (TCE). Thise are the herbicidal agents that cause the diseases. Those two "AGENTS" mirror the diseases the presumed to be caused by A.O. Amend the law to include all veterans occupationally exposed to dioxin laden hydraulic fluid containing PCBs. Amend the law to include veterans who used TCE to wash parts soaked with dioxin laden hydraulic fluids. They used, used hydraulic fluid to discharge the herbicides, along with diesel fuels and whatever they had laying around that needed to be discarded. They loaded the tankers and away they went spraying our guys who dipped their canteens in the waters of the jungle and dropped a few tablets into their canteens to make it safe. The DOD also tole us that TCE was safe because it wouldn't explode when working around electric systems or the risk of static electricity sparks. Now the boys are sick and them or their doctors don't know why.

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