Agent Orange was an herbicide used extensively in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. It is commonly accepted that it was sprayed over the jungle in Vietnam. VA will presume that veterans who served in Vietnam were exposed to Agent Orange.
Precedential Decision on Agent Orange Use in Thailand
For a long time VA would deny Thailand veterans benefits by finding that Agent Orange was not used at the bases in which they served. This conflicted with VA’s own internal manual that showed conclusively that Agent Orange was used in Thailand.
In July 2016 the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims rejected VA’s traditional position in a case that now impacts all who served in Thailand in support of the U.S. war in Vietnam. That case is Parseeya-Picchione v. McDonald, 28 Vet. App. 171 (2016). As a result of this case an independent Court has determined that Agent Orange was used in Thailand, and that service at or near the perimeter of a military base there is sufficient to find exposure.
I am proud to say that I successfully represented the surviving spouse in that case.
Below are public Board decisions following the Parseeya-Picchione decision in which I was able to establish Agent Orange exposure:
Agent Orange in Thailand
If you served in Thailand during the Vietnam War, you were likely exposed to Agent Orange or other type of herbicide.
In the late 1990s, the U.S. Air Force declassified a report that disclosed that herbicides were also used at Air Force bases in Thailand. (That report can be found here). These bases included:
- Nakhon Phanom
- Don Muang
VA will not presume exposure for veterans who served in Thailand. To date VA will determine whether a veteran served on the perimeter of one of these Air Force bases. If VA believes that a veteran did, only then will it concede exposure.
VA will presume that the following diseases are related to exposure to Agent Orange:
- AL Amyloidosis A rare disease caused when an abnormal protein, amyloid, enters tissues or organs
- Cronic B-Cell Leukemia A type of cancer which affects white blood cells
- Chloracne (or similar acneform disease) A skin condition that occurs soon after exposure to chemicals and looks like common forms of acne seen in teenagers. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
- Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body’s inability to respond properly to the hormone insulin
- Hodgkin's Disease A malignant lymphoma (cancer) characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia
- Ischemic Heart Disease A disease characterized by a reduced supply of blood to the heart, that leads to chest pain
- Multiple Myeloma A cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in bone marrow
- Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma A group of cancers that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue
- Parkinson's Disease A progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle movement
- Peripheral Neuropathy Acute and Subacute - A nervous system condition that causes numbness, tingling, and motor weakness. Currently, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of herbicide exposure and resolve within two years. VA proposed on Aug. 10, 2012, to replace "acute and subacute" with "early-onset" and eliminate the requirement that symptoms resolve within two years.
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda A disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
- Prostate Cancer Cancer of the prostate; one of the most common cancers among men
- Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer) - Cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas A malignant lymphoma (cancer) characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia
- Hodgkin's Disease A(other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma) - A group of different types of cancers in body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues
If you served in Thailand and VA has denied your claim for compensation for one of these diseases, call me for a conversation about your options. You need not fight VA alone.