Agent Orange Effects on Family

prangleprangle Member Posts: 1,462 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited July 2012 in US Military Veteran Forum
My wife went to the VA again today.

1. Miscarriages(My wife had three).
2. Sons or daughters with sinus problems(I luckily had one daughter) and she had sinus surgery at age 10.
3. I had a cerabellum stroke 3 1/2 years ago. I have to have a cane to walk and still look drunk while walking.I have a hard time doing natural sanitary things. Constant vertigo.
4. I have had hiccups (diaphram spasms)for 3 1/2 years.

The Army tested AO in Canada to prove it was safe. Now Canada is paying Agent Orange $$$$ to troops around that area.


  • us55840us55840 Member Posts: 31,282 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The following is C&P from another site about a servicemans' fight with the VA over AO exposure.

    My military history:

    I entered the Army on April 17, 1967. I graduated from the U.S. Army's Signal Center and School at Ft. Monmouth, NJ with an MOS of 26L20 - Microwave Radio Repair. After finishing that course, part of my class received orders for Vietnam and the rest of us received orders for Thailand.

    Direct exposure

    Exhibit 9 - Admiral Zumwalt's report to the VA : Herbicide was used by the military to ".clear Vegetation around military installations, landing zones, fire base camps, and trails" (page 4). Also ".a significant, if not major source of exposure for ground forces was from non-recorded, non Ranch Hand operations." (page 4) And ".Agent Orange issued to Allied forces was frequently used on unrecorded missions." (page 5)
    Exhibit 10 - Department of the Air Force letter to Congressman Lane Evans: In the last "Answer", (page 2), an answer to the question about whether or not certain herbicide agents were used at bases in Thailand, Colonel Boyd's response is: ".commanders were at liberty to use herbicides for defoliation around their activities using either handheld or vehicle mounted units, with no accountability required.."
    Exhibit 11 - Vietnam Veterans of America report DIOX2002-16: Also makes the point that, "The use of herbicides was not confined to the jungles. It was widely used to suppress vegetation around the perimeters of military bases and, in many instances, the interiors of those bases". (page 7)
    Exhibit 12 - Colonel Downey letter to General Momyer: Establishes the presence of six spray equipped C-123's in Thailand on February 24, 1967 and that the eighteenth C-123 Ranch Hand equipped aircraft was due later that month and that there was a shortage of herbicide chemical in Thailand. (page 2, paragraph 3)
    Exhibit 13 - Transcript: Pre 65 DFL spray Operations RUN: "Agent Orange was first tested Thailand in Feb 1965". (page 8)
    Exhibit 14 (page 2) - Congressman Evans asked DOD secretary Rumsfeld for information on the use of Agent Orange in specific other (outside Vietnam) locations. The response to his request is on page 4, where Principal Assistant Under Secretary of Defense Grone declares that Agent Orange was not used on Guam, but his attachment includes a list of locations where it was used and Thailand is listed on pages 15, 19, and 22.
    Exhibit 15 (page 2) - Shows that Under Secretary Grone was mistaken about Agent Orange not being in use on Guam. Mr. Grone's response doesn't include Okinawa either, yet we know that Agent Orange was used there as well (page 19). The error of these omissions from his response on exhibit 14 demonstrates the incompleteness of DOD documents and supports the Department of the Air Force comment on exhibit 10, page 2, that ". commanders were at liberty to use herbicides for defoliation around their activities using either handheld or vehicle mounted units, with no accountability required.."
    Exhibit 16 - Statements by Thailand veterans, who have witnessed herbicides being sprayed on their bases is on exhibit 16 and exhibit 17 (beginning on page 74). They testify to its use at Nakhom Phanom (NKP), Takhli, Korat, Ubon, Udorn, U-Tapao, Camp Vayama, Samesan, Ramasun Station, and Phu-Mu. There are pictures on exhibit 17, beginning on page 22, to back up their claims.
    Exhibit 18 - In addition to the denuded barracks area in the picture of Camp Friendship on exhibit 7, there is also a picture of a drum storage area at Camp Friendship on exhibit 18. One barrel can clearly be seen with the telltale stripe around its middle, the markings of our herbicide containers, and proof that herbicide was stored at Camp Friendship.
    Exhibit 19 - "Most military bases had vehicle-mounted and back-pack spray units available for use in routine vegetation control programs" (page 8). Fifty percent of agent blue was used for crop destruction and base maintenance and 2% of Agent Orange was sprayed from the ground around base perimeters (page 10).
    Exhibit 20 - ".2 percent was sprayed from the ground around base perimeters.".

    In addition to eyewitness testimony of spraying at U-Tapao, and pictures showing U-Tapao's denuded landscape, the documentation that I have supplied to the VA after the initial claim mailing, includes a picture of U-Tapao's vehicle-mounted spraying equipment.

    The Myth of "tactical" versus "commercial" herbicide:

    On December 18, 2009, Thailand veteran Frank Picchione's claim was denied. In that decision, referencing Docket No. 06-25 205A, BVA judge John J. Crowley wrote: "Tactical herbicides such as Agent Orange were used and stored in Vietnam but not in Thailand. Other than the 1964 tests on Pranburi Military Reservation, there are no records of tactical herbicide storage or use in Thailand. There are records indicating commercial herbicides were frequently used for vegetation control within the perimeters of air bases during the Vietnam era, but all such use required the approval of both the Armed Forces Pest Control and the Base Civil Engineer."

    Any information on testing at Pranburi, Thailand is irrelevant to this particular matter, as is Mr. Paul Cecil's histories on Ranch Hand or Operation Flyswatter, as they detail only the aerial application of herbicides and insecticides, and have absolutely nothing to do with ongoing changes to the "Rules of Engagement" (ROE) and the authorized continued use of herbicides on perimeters for base defense.

    There are no specific references in documents from the Department of Defense or its subordinate Departments referring to "tactical" versus "commercial" use of herbicides from 1962 - 2005 in any official history, report, or document. The only term used is herbicides.

    The first use of "tactical" versus "commercial" herbicides actually comes from Contract DAAD19-02-D-0001, "The History of the US Department of Defense Programs for the Testing, Evaluation, and Storage of Tactical Herbicides," dated December 2006, by Mr. Alvin L. Young, PhD.. Mr. Young goes to great lengths to indicate that approval of the AFPCB/AFPMB was needed for commercial herbicides and that they were applied by base CE. More importantly, this excerpt is directly from the document's "Introduction" in the paragraph titled: "Summary"
    "The exception to these Directives was the development of the "Tactical Herbicides" sprayed in combat military operations in Vietnam, or by Department of State approval as used in Korea adjacent to the Demilitarized Zone in 1968."

    In addition, from the paragraph titled: "Implications"
    "Herbicides used in Operation RANCH HAND for defoliation and crop destruction projects, and by the US Army Chemical Corps for vegetation control on perimeters, cache sites, and similar militarily-important targets were classified as "Tactical Herbicides" and were formulated, tested, evaluated, and assigned "Military Specifications" by the Department of Defense."

    In the USMACTHAI/JUSMAGTHAI Memorandum "Mission Policy on Base Defense", dated November 1, 1969, the use of herbicides required not AFPCB/AFPMB approval but the approval of the Embassy:

    "E. All new base defense planning, arrangements and major joint exercise proposals are to be coordinated in advance with the US Embassy so that due account can be taken of the vital necessity to balance political and military factors in base defense."

    "J. Approval to conduct soil sterilization and/or defoliation operations on or around US occupied installation will be obtained from the US Embassy. Coordination will be effected with the local US Consul where applicable."

    The Project CHECO Southeast Asia Report "Base Defense in Thailand," dated 18 February 1973, prepared by Major Barnett and Captain Barrow for HQ PACAF, Directorate of Operations Analysis, CHECO / CORONET HARVEST Division is clear:

    From page 58:
    ".herbicides were employed to assist in the difficult task of vegetation control."

    From page 67:
    "Soil sterilization and herbicide use was also approved in 1969, but these were subject to extensive coordination with local RTG authorities and final permission from the Embassy. They could only be used on areas within the perimeter and under no circumstances could the vegetation control agents be used to clear areas of observation to fire off-base. This lengthy process, and the inability to go beyond the fences, significantly limited the use of those agents at many bases."

    One telling remark on page 66 refers to "The extent to which vegetation has been cleared.," concerning the use of herbicides between 1966 -1972 at Nakhon Phanom. Another statement in the report is the comment that U-Tapao RTNAB's perimeter was nearly 19 miles long and specifically references any attempt to show "limited use". As an example, the report emphasizes the needs and use of herbicides with Embassy (State Department) approval.

    "Base Analysis" (which begins on page 68):

    "Korat RTAFB. Vegetation control was a serious problem at this base in 1972, especially in the critical RTAF area near the end of the runway. The dense growth offered opportunity for concealment in the area contiguous to the unrevetted KC-135 parking ramp. Further, vegetation was thick in many sectors of the concertina wire on the perimeter. The base had received Embassy permission to use herbicides and had just begun that program in June."

    "Nakhon Phanom RTAFB. NKP also had the usual rainy season vegetation problems, but heavy use of herbicides kept the growth under control in the fenced areas."

    The interpretation by the Veterans Benefit Administration is clearly in error as the US Consul at the US Embassy in Thailand is the representative of the State Department, and complies with the definition provided by Mr. Alvin L. Young of "tactical herbicides".

    Finally, the law (P. L. 102-4) is even more specific, in that it does not require exposure to "tactical" herbicides but "to an herbicide agent containing dioxin or 2, 4- dichlorophenoxyacetic acid."

    An attempt to define and discuss "tactical" herbicides will only obfuscate the issue. No records are available that detail DOD contracts for "commercial" herbicides requiring State Department approval.

    The following document details exposure to all veterans stationed within bases in Thailand, the Philippines, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Japan (including Okinawa), as well as Australia and New Zealand as stated by the expert (Alvin L. Young) being used by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In a letter to Mrs. Cleary from Alvin L. Young regarding use of herbicides in Southeast Asia, Mr. Young writes:
    "The two chemicals, 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, are now in regular use, particularly for weed control, in rice paddies, other field and horticultural crops, and rangeland, in Asian countries such as Burma, Thailand, Philippines, Republic of China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.
    The herbicides are being used by the government of the Republic of Vietnam in the guerrilla warfare with the Viet Cong in order to increase visibility on the ground and from the air."

    Therefore, there is no difference between "tactical" and "commercial" herbicide in South East Asia. The herbicide used on military reservations in Thailand was the same herbicide used in support of the United States and allied military operations in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam era, and that makes it specifically covered by the Agent Orange Act of 1991.

    I now offer the following new pieces of evidence that back up this section:
    1. "The History of the US Department of Defense Programs for the Testing, Evaluation, and Storage of Tactical Herbicides," dated December 2006, by Mr. Alvin L. Young, PhD.
    2. USMACTHAI/JUSMAGTHAI Memorandum "Mission Policy on Base Defense", dated November 1, 1969.
    3. Project CHECO Southeast Asia Report "Base Defense in Thailand," dated 18 February 1973.
    4. Letter to Mrs. Cleary from Alvin L. Young.

    VA acknowledges Agent Orange exposure at the perimeter:

    There is an October 6, 2008 letter from Patrick W. Dunne, Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Benefits, to Representative Daniel K. Akaka, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. In this letter, Mr. Dunne acknowledges that Agent Orange was used on military bases in Thailand to control vegetation along the perimeter for security purposes. He also refers to a letter which states that ".when available, herbicides could be used locally by base commanders for defoliation using hand held or vehicle mounted dispensers". His letter ends with "Exposure will be acknowledged when possible, and the benefit of the doubt will be given to all veterans". I can provide a copy of this letter if you do not have it and need it.

    Mr. Dunne's letter shows that the VA concedes the use of Agent Orange on bases in Thailand. But, to my knowledge, so far, the VA has only granted the claims of security personnel who have "stepped foot on the perimeter". In the VA's C&P Bulletin, dated August 2009, on page 4, it states, "When a Veteran with Thailand service during the Vietnam Era files a disability claim based on herbicide exposure and service records show that the Veteran's military occupational specialty (MOS) was Security Policeman or Security Dog Handler, or the Veteran had another MOS that would have required work near the airbase perimeter, VA regional offices should e-mail the Agent Orange Mailbox with a summary of the evidence contained in the claims files."

    To prove direct exposure, what is left for me to prove is that I was required to work near the perimeter. My MOS (Microwave Radio Repair) worked near the base perimeter because base microwave radio communications equipment was always erected at base perimeters. If you look at aerial pictures of our bases, and I have pictures of some of them that I can show you, you can spot microwave radio antennas and radio shacks at the perimeter. This was done for safety reasons because this equipment was high voltage and radiation emitted from the antennas and it was also done to avoid reception/transmission interference from other camp equipment. In fact the Army currently has a microwave weapon, called the "Active Denial System", informally referred to as the "Pain Ray". It is used for crowd control and it can even disable vehicles.

    During my tour of duty in Thailand with the Army, the principle responsibilities of the Army in Thailand were construction and communications. I was stationed at Camp Friendship, which was the largest Army camp in Thailand. The camp was home to engineer and signal battalions. The other Army camps in Thailand were populated by communications units as well. Anyone with a communications MOS worked near the perimeter because that is where communications equipment was erected. That puts a large number of Thailand's Army veterans at the perimeter.

    Air Force bases have an "Alert-Recall Plan", which assigns certain people, referred to as "Augmentees", to work with the base Security Police during a period of alert. These Airmen, who did not have a Security Police MOS, were required to augment base security by patrolling the base perimeter. That puts a number of Thailand's Air Force veterans at the perimeter.

    When we went on "alert", which happened once while I was at Camp Friendship (and this alert included Korat RTAFB) and once while I was stationed on Hill 272 (and this alert included U-Tapao RTNAF), we gathered our field gear (actually, at Camp Friendship we gathered our field gear; on Hill 272 we were handed a M-14, a magazine, and 200 rounds of ammunition) and headed for the perimeter. We most assuredly did not defend our base by peering out the window of our hooch or mess hall. We took up positions on the perimeter to greet a potential threat. That puts every soldier at Camp Friendship and Hill 272, and many Airmen at Korat and U-Tapao air bases on the perimeter.

    How does the VA define "near" the perimeter? Canada grants claims for people who were within five kilometers from Agent Orange usage. Everyone on the base was within five kilometers of the perimeter.

    Does the VA definition of "perimeter" include the gate areas? We didn't helicopter onto our bases, we walked on. I walked from Camp Friendship to Korat RTAFB often during the time I was stationed there. I walked through the gate. Isn't the gate part of the perimeter? Our gates were defended just as much as any other conceivable point of entry into the camp and those areas were kept clear of vegetation just as every other part of the perimeter.

    Granting exposure only at the perimeter is unrealistic:

    It is also important to recognize the "contamination factor" in the recycled drums, and that the "aerosol factor" either indirectly or directly in manual (on-the-ground) spraying of herbicides "on or around" U.S. occupied (military) installations can affect all U.S. personnel at such sites. Another common way such (sprayed) herbicides can inadvertently expose the troops is flooding of installations either in the common rains or seasonal monsoon rains. Spraying an area, such as the perimeter, or other sites on base can contaminate many things beyond the control of those administering the chemical. Agent Orange sprayed on the ground contaminated water runoff from the rain, which contaminated the water supply we drank, bathed in, and had our clothing washed in.

    The VA also needs to concede that toxins in the herbicide had a life expectancy of greater than 1 to 3 years. Dioxin is a contamination issue for the Vietnamese to this day. They are plagued with birth defects. Dioxin is considered the most persistent toxin known. In the environment, its half-life can be decades. Our troops were subjected to herbicide runoff during flooding conditions and the natural process of spreading in the immediate area. JUSMAG policy states "on or around" and not just around for approved herbicide (use) spraying.

    To summarize:

    Enclosed documents provide evidence that herbicide agents were used in Thailand, that the VA acknowledges its use on base perimeters, that the herbicide used in Thailand was the same herbicide used in Vietnam and therefore covered by the Agent Orange Act of 1991. My MOS was required to work at the base perimeter so that puts me at the perimeter. Outside of my trips to Tan Son Nhut, Vietnam, these are plausible explanations as to how I could have come in contact with herbicide agents while stationed in Thailand, and that service connection to my prostate cancer cannot be severed unless it can be clearly established that I was never exposed to herbicide chemicals during my military service (exhibit 15, pages 8-10, 15).

    They were widely used to suppress vegetation around the perimeters and interiors of military bases in Thailand just as surely as they had been in Vietnam, Guam, Okinawa (exhibit 15, page 17) and 21 bases inside the continental U.S. (ref. James Cripps claim). No accounting for herbicide use was required for base maintenance and that explains why the Department of Defense cannot be relied upon to provide complete records of their use. The Department of Defense at one time denied Agent Orange was used in Korea and Laos as well, but those denials have also been proven false. The pictures of denuded camp landscapes, in an otherwise lush green country, show that herbicide was in use for maintaining a vegetation-free camp landscape where I was stationed. Herbicide then seeped into our water supply and we drank this contaminated water, bathed in it, had our clothes washed in it, had our food prepared in it, and we walked in it (Institute of Medicine Levels 3-5). Pictures of herbicide drums cannot be denied either.

    GUAM may be included in a congressional bill that expands the compensation program for veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and other types of defoliants used by American troops during Vietnam War. H.R.2254, titled "The Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009," has received a bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, with over 200 congressmen having signed up as cosponsors. "Republicans and Democrats alike have joined together to stand up for Agent Orange veterans," said Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) author of H.R.2254, and chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. In a press statement released in late NOV, Filner said his bill would expand the eligibility for presumptive conditions to all combat veterans of the Vietnam War "regardless of where they served." The current compensation program for Agent Orange exposure covers only those who were deployed to Vietnam. Filner issued the statement on the heels of a recent ruling by the Department of Veterans Affairs' Board of Appeals in Texas, which rejected the benefit claims sought by a veteran who was stationed at Andersen Air Force Base during the Vietnam War. Despite personal testimonies and photos of herbicide barrels sent via mass email by veterans who claimed to have handled Agent Orange at AAFB, the U.S. Department of Defense has not officially acknowledged that Agent Orange and other rainbow herbicides were ever used on Guam.

    While acknowledging the statements made by the claimant, the appeals board said the claims were not supported by official evidence. "The veteran's record personnel records indicate that he served in Guam during the war in Vietnam," the appeals board stated in its JUN 09 ruling. "However, the Department of Defense has not established that Agent Orange was used in Guam during the period of the veteran's service." The most recent ruling, however, was inconsistent with four previous decisions that confirmed the use of Agent Orange on Guam between early 1960s and late 1970s. These four previous decisions were based on the 2004 Dow Chemical Risk Report. With no legal support to back them up and no immediate relief on the horizon, veterans who were deployed to Guam have created an online network and sending mass email to demand U.S. lawmakers' attention to their plight. Filner, meanwhile, acknowledges that while Current law requires the Department Veterans Affairs to provide care for service members exposed to Agent Orange by virtue of their `boots on the ground,' it "ignores veterans that served in the blue waters and the blue skies of Vietnam. Time is running out for these Vietnam veterans. Many are dying from their Agent Orange related diseases, uncompensated for their sacrifice," Filner said in a press statement. "There is still a chance for America to meet its obligations to these estimated 800,000 noble veterans. The courts have turned their backs on our veterans, but I believe this Congress will not allow veterans to be cheated of their earned benefits," he added. [Source: Marianas Variety News & Views Mar-Vic Cagurangan article 30 Nov 09 ++]

    An Air Force retiree, Kurt Priessman, found in his personal research and use of the FOIA, significant evidence as to the use of agent orange in Thailand:

    (1) Declassified from "Secret" Extract Release from the USAF CHECO Project Series on Thailand "Base Defense in Thailand" Source: AFDO/Pentagon 21 Sep 07

    (2) Declassified JUSMAG/Thailand policy memo on base defenses 3 Dec 07

    VARO/Waco in 2008 granted Priessman's disability claim based upon his service in Thailand and presumptive disease of diabetes, type II.

    VARO/St. Petersburg, in coordination with Priessman's assistance to David Adkison, USAF (Retired) also was granted service connection for direct exposure to Agent Orange for his current medical condition of diabetes, type II.

    In a current brief, published in March 2008, the IOM has been trying to provide "science" to a proximity model for exposure to Agent Orange with five (5) levels. Level 1 is "presumptive" and levels 3 thru 5 require a "personal dosage" experience. Level 2, like level 1, is presumptive in nature where the IOM team compiled a database of agent spraying and compiled dates in relation to when U.S. personnel were in those areas.

    We were given a concession to base defenses in Thailand to spray "on or around" U.S. occupied installations. See JUSMAG/Thailand policy memo.

    Please, take the time to review the photos that I have provided. You will see brown bases surrounded by green jungles. The air & rescue elements stationed at NKP for downed pilots had standard equipment 100 ft lines to aid in difficult recoveries. They needed 300 ft lines in S.E.A. to traverse the jungle canopy.

    re: Ottawa, Canada

    "[further] studies indicate claims should be considered up to 5 kilometres from such usage, case in CFB Cagetown, Ottawa, Canada used as a standard of exposure assessment.

    Again, considering the combination of the IOM Proximity Model, Levels 3 thru 5, i.e. "Ground Zero" and any standard for exposure assessment that says "5 kilometres" [from usage] is adequate.

    Our State Department, where because of the involvement of the U.S. Embassy/Bangkok, policy (ROE) was dictated "from afar" and the Joint Uniform Services Military Advisory Group published directives which for political reasons had to be followed. We needed that declassified (3 Dec 07) memo, and a big thanks to Airman Kurt Priessman for finding it!

    re: inadequate supply

    Camp Friendship in Korat, Thailand was built as a contingency for the U.S. Army and the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii (and of course, Vietnam). Of course, it never came to that, but along the way, oh 1966, we were building a 55-gallon drum storage facility that would inventory some 21,000 drums (Cost: $10,000). Project 9LC 65-3C, pg-2. And, the facility was 20% completed. Korat was a hub for supplies.

    U-Tapao RTNAF was the home of the "Red Horse," or the Air Force answer to civil engineering and the building of airport facilities and structures. On the base, you will find an ammunition dump second to no where in the Far East. A little reading of the USAF CHECO Report "Base Defense in Thailand" will tell you that the USAF was worried about "aircraft resources" and nowhere was there an arsenal of "aircraft resources" in Thailand, except for maybe the USAF Fighter Squadron in Korat, and the B-52 bombers that made daily runs to Vietnam.

    My disease: I was diagnosed with prostate cancer by Dr. Raymond Hackett on April 24, 2006. Since that time I have been under the care of Metro Urology doctors Robert Gaertner and Christopher Knoedler, M.D.'s, who subsequently removed my cancerous prostate on July 18, 2006. My family has no history of prostate cancer; I am the first to have it. Dr. Hackett indicated that my condition is more common among older men, though he indicated it is more common among veterans exposed to herbicide agents. He asked me if I had been to Vietnam and exposed to such agents. Dr. Gaertner's physician's statement is exhibit 5.
    "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it." Abraham Lincoln
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