Agent Orange Exposure – New Report on C-123 Flight Crews

Exposure to Agent Orange causes serious health problems.  Veterans of Vietnam were exposed to Agent Orange, and VA has acknowledged that Agent Orange exposure causes a number of diseases and medical conditions.  For Vietnam veterans who served “boots on the ground”, exposure to Agent Orange is presumptive. This means they do not have to present evidence that they were actually exposed.

Difficulty of proving Agent Orange exposure without a presumption

Many other veterans also believe that their disabilities were caused by Agent Orange exposure.  In most cases, those veterans must actually prove that they were exposed to Agent Orange in service order to receive benefits.  Often, this is difficult to prove because of the time that passes between the Agent Orange exposure and the development of the disease or medical condition.  The evidence that would have proven the exposure is no longer around.  This lack of evidence often results in the denial of benefits for many service members who did not serve in Vietnam.

Post Vietnam Agent Orange exposure in C-123s

As we discussed in a previous article, many members of C-123 flight crews have recently asserted that they were exposed to hazardous levels of Agent Orange while flying C-123s after Vietnam.  Many of these men and women have developed symptoms that are consistent with diseases and medical conditions that VA has acknowledged are caused by Agent Orange.  Unfortunately, VA has claimed that these veterans could not have been exposed to hazardous amounts of Agent Orange.

According to a Military Times article, a new report from the Institute of Medicine confirms that air force service members who served on C-123s may have been exposed to dangerous levels of Agent Orange.  A copy of the key findings of the Institute of Medicine report can be viewed here.  The service members who were most likely exposed to Agent Orange from the C-123s were Air Force reservists who trained and worked on the aircraft.

Will the new report extend the Agent Orange presumptions?

The presumptions given to veterans who served in Vietnam were created after many years of litigation.  Currently, there are no such presumptions for the benefit of the veterans who claim they were exposed to hazardous levels of Agent Orange while training and working in these C-123s.  Hopefully, this new report from the Institute of Medicine will cause the VA to extend these Agent Orange presumptions to these C-123 pilots.  Even if it does not, those who served on the C-123s can still attempt to prove that they were exposed to Agent Orange and seek to recover benefits based on that exposure.

UPDATE:

VA has adopted a regulation that extends the Agent Orange presumptions to C-123 pilots.  For more information, take a look at this article.