Agent Orange Locations
Overview of Agent Orange
Agent Orange was a tactical herbicide mixture used by the United States military during the Vietnam War era. The term “Agent Orange” also refers to the multiple “rainbow” herbicides used by the U.S. These include Agent White, Agent Blue, Agent Pink, and Agent Green, among others.
The U.S. military used Agent Orange and other herbicides for two main purposes: 1) to destroy the enemy’s crops to interrupt their food supply, and 2) to destroy foliage to increase visibility and prevent ambush attacks. Thus, many veterans who served during the Vietnam War era were in direct contact with Agent Orange.
Agent Orange specifically is composed of a 50/50 mixture of herbicide agents 2, 4-D and 2, 4, 5-T. The highly toxic dioxin contaminant known as 2, 3, 7, 8-TCDD is a byproduct that is produced by Agent Orange. This dioxin often takes years to break down once it has been released into the environment and can cause a wide array of health effects. As such, many service members exposed to Agent Orange during U.S. military operations have since developed serious health conditions.
Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions
Presumptive service connection is when the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) presumes a veteran’s condition was caused by their military service, usually due to a certain toxic exposure. VA recognizes certain conditions and their symptoms as having a strong association with Agent Orange exposure. VA outlines the criteria for presumptive service connection based on Agent Orange exposure in 38 CFR § 3.307.
The list of presumptive conditions continues to grow, with three new conditions (i.e., hypothyroidism, bladder cancer, and Parkinson’s Disease-like symptoms) added in January 2021. Even more recently, the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2021 added two new conditions to the presumptive list of Agent Orange exposure: monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (i.e., abnormal protein in the blood) and hypertension (i.e., high blood pressure).
The following Agent Orange conditions are considered presumptive by VA:
- AL Amyloidosis
- Bladder Cancer
- Chronic B-cell Leukemias
- Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Ischemic Heart Disease
- Monoclonal Gammopathy
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Parkinson’s-like Symptoms
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
- Prostate Cancer
- Respiratory Cancer
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas
Agent Orange Presumptive Locations and Time Periods
Presumption of exposure means that veterans who served in specific locations during specific time periods do not have to provide the typical elements to establish service connection. Unlike other claimants, they do not need to show evidence of an in-service event or injury leading to their condition.
Recently, the PACT Act amended 38 USC § 1116 to extend the presumption of exposure to include veterans who served in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and at Johnston Atoll. Specifically, presumption of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides includes service members with active military, naval, air, or space service in the following locations and time periods:
- Vietnam from January 9, 1962 to May 7, 1975: This includes boots-on-the-ground, veterans with service aboard a ship that operated in the inland waterways of Vietnam (i.e., Brown Water veterans), or veterans with service aboard a ship in Vietnam’s territorial seas (i.e., Blue Water Navy veterans).
- The Korean DMZ from September 1, 1967 to August 31, 1971: On or near the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ).
- C-123 aircraft from 1969 to 1986: Active duty and reservist personnel who had regular contact with C-123 aircraft.
- Thailand from January 9, 1962 to June 30 1976: At any U.S. or Thai base, without regard to the Veteran’s military occupational specialty (MOS) or where on base they were located.
- Laos from December 1, 1965 to September 30, 1969
- Cambodia from April 16, 1969 to April 30, 1969: Specifically at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province.
- Guam or American Samoa from January 9, 1962 to July 30, 1980: Or in the territorial waters thereof.
- Johnson Atoll from January 1, 1972 to September 30, 1977: Johnston Atoll or a ship that called at Johnston Atoll.
Blue Water Navy Veterans
On June 25, 2019, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 was signed into law. This bipartisan bill accompanied the Procopio v. Wilkie decision, extending the presumption of herbicide exposure to veterans who served within 12 nautical miles seaward of the demarcation line of Vietnam between 1962 and 1975. It also extended the time period of the presumption for veterans who served along the Korean DMZ to September 1, 1967 until August 31, 1971.
Additionally, the Blue Water Navy Act provided access to health care, vocational training, rehabilitation, and monetary allowance to children with spina bifida of certain Thailand veterans who served during the Vietnam era.
Agent Orange and C-123 Aircraft
C-123 aircraft were used to spray Agent Orange over forested areas in Vietnam during Operation Ranch Hand. The aircraft were fitted with spray tanks to spray the herbicide across large areas of the country. Following Operation Ranch Hand, the C-123 aircraft were returned to the U.S. and used by Air Force and Air Force reserves, exposing more service members to Agent Orange.
In January 2015, following the release of the report Post-Vietnam Dioxin Exposure in Agent Orange-Contaminated C-123 Aircraft, VA conceded that Airmen who worked on C-123 aircraft as a part of Operation Ranch Hand were exposed to Agent Orange, and therefore qualify for presumptive service connection for certain diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure.
According to VA regulation, the following may qualify for Agent Orange presumptive service connection due to contact with C-123 aircraft:
- Active-duty personnel who served in a regular U.S. Air Force unit location where a contaminated C-123 was assigned who had regular contact with the aircraft through flight, ground, or medical duties between 1969 and 1986, and who developed Agent Orange related disabilities.
- Reservists who were assigned to flight, ground, or medical duties at the below locations between 1969 and 1986, and who developed Agent Orange related disabilities:
- Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Ohio (906th and 907th Tactical Air Groups or 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift Squadron)
- Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts (731st Tactical Air Squadron and 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron)
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, International Airport (758th Airlift Squadron)
Agent Orange and the Korean DMZ
VA presumes herbicide exposure for any veteran who served between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971, in a unit determined by VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to have operated in an area in or near the Korean DMZ. DoD and VA have recognized the following units as eligible for the presumption of herbicide exposure:
- Combat Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division
- 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry
- 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry
- 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry
- 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry
- 3rd Battalion, 23rd Infantry
- 2nd Battalion, 31st Infantry (service records may show assignments to either the 2nd or the 7th Infantry Division)
- 3rd Battalion, 32nd Infantry (service records may show assignments to either the 2nd or the 7th Infantry Division)
- 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry
- 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry
- 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor
- 2nd Battalion, 72nd Armor
- 1st Battalion, 12th Artillery
- 1st Battalion, 15th Artillery
- 7th Battalion, 17th Artillery
- 5th Battalion, 38th Artillery
- 6th Battalion, 37th Artillery
- Division Reaction Force
- 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry, Counter Agent Company
- 3rd Brigade of the 7th Infantry Division
- 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry
- 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry
- 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry
- 2nd Squadron, 10th Cavalry
- 2nd Battalion, 17th Infantry
- 2nd Battalion, 31st Infantry (service records may show assignment to either the 2nd or the 7th Infantry Division)
- 2nd Battalion, 32nd Infantry
- 3rd Battalion, 32nd Infantry (service records may show assignment to either the 2nd or the 7th Infantry Division)
- 1st Battalion, 73rd Armor
- Other Qualifying Assignments
- 2nd Military Police Company, 2nd Infantry Division
- 13th Engineer Combat Battalion
- United Nations Command Security Battalion-Joint Security Area (UNCSB-JSA)
- Crew of the USS Pueblo
Veterans who served in one of the listed units in or near the Korean DMZ during the above-mentioned timeframe are eligible for presumptive service connection provided they have a qualifying condition.
Agent Orange in Thailand
Vietnam era veterans who served in Thailand have long fought for the recognition of health problems linked to Agent Orange exposure in Thailand. For years, VA only conceded herbicide exposure for Thailand veterans with evidence that they were regularly “on or near” the perimeters of military bases. Due to this, Thailand veterans faced unnecessary difficulties in obtaining Agent Orange disability benefits.
However, under the recently enacted PACT Act, VA now recognizes that servicemembers with active military naval, air, or space service who served in Thailand, at any U.S. or Thai base, between January 9, 1962 and June 30, 1976 were likely exposed to Agent Orange. VA has established presumptive service connection for these veterans, meaning that VA will assume exposure if they have evidence of service in Thailand between January 9, 1962 and June 30, 1976.
Again, VA presumes exposure for service at any US or Thai base. While not an exhaustive list, these can include service on any part of the following bases:
- Nakhon Phanom
- Don Muang
Agent Orange in Guam or American Samoa
Tens of thousands of servicemembers served in Guam or the American Samoa during the Vietnam War era, especially at the height of the bombing operations during the conflict.
According to private government records and historical archives, there is evidence that Agent Orange was used in Guam during the Vietnam War Era. Evidence indicates that Agent Orange was used in the following places:
- Guam cross-island fuel pipeline and road
- Andersen Air Force Base (AAFB) and AAFB annexes and perimeters
- The Marianas-Bonins Command (MARBO) Annex
- AAFB flight line and surrounding areas
- USAF or U.S. Navy fuel storage facilities
- USAF or U.S. Navy power stations
- Areas near Urunao Beach or Ritidian Point
- Military landfills, waste piles, and over-the-cliff dumpsites
- Fire-fighter training areas
- Polaris Point and submarine tender support facilities
As of the PACT Act, veterans who served anywhere in Guam or American Samoa, or in the territorial waters thereof, from January 9, 1962 to July 30, 1980 are eligible for VA’s presumption of Agent Orange exposure.
Agent Orange and Johnston Atoll
Johnston Atoll is an island located off the southwest coast of Hawaii. The United States Air Force had a base on this island, called Johnston Island Air Force Base, which began operation before World War II and was decommissioned in 2004. The base was used to store Agent Orange between April 1972 and September 1977. As such, many veterans were exposed to herbicides on Johnston Atoll and have since developed serious health conditions.
Additionally, the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS) took place on Johnston Atoll during the mid-1990s. This system was used to destroy chemical agents.
The PACT Act has extended the presumption of service connection to service members with active military naval, air, or space service who served at Johnston Atoll between January 1, 1972 and September 30, 1977. As a result, it will now be easier for Johnston Atoll veterans to establish service connection and receive VA disability benefits for conditions linked to their Agent Orange exposure.
Agent Orange in Laos
The extent to which Agent Orange was used in Laos is not well understood, as little testing has been conducted. The War Legacies Project asserts that, based on U.S. Air Force official spray records disclosed in 1999, “at least fifteen districts in the provinces of Kham Mouane, Savannakhet, Salavan, Xekong, and Attapeau were heavily and repeatedly sprayed with tactical herbicides.”
The PACT Act enables veterans exposed to herbicides in Laos between December 1, 1965 and September 30, 1969 to qualify for presumptive service connection.
Agent Orange in Cambodia
According to the Agent Orange Record Project, Agent Orange was not systematically sprayed through Cambodia like it was in Laos and Vietnam. Rather, spray runs were conducted in Cambodian territory. In late April 1969, roughly 270 square miles of French and Cambodian plantations in the Kampong Cham Province of Cambodia were sprayed with Agent Orange. Spray drift also carried into the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which was established on the Cambodian border of South Vietnam.
Due to this, the PACT Act has extended the presumption of herbicide exposure to those who served in Cambodia, specifically at Mimot or Krek, or Kampong Cham Province between April 16, 1969 and April 30, 1969.
Dependency and Indemnity (DIC) Retroactive Benefits Outside of Vietnam
The passage of the PACT Act also enables the surviving spouses and dependents of veterans who passed away from a condition linked to Agent Orange exposure outside of Vietnam (i.e., Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and at Johnston Atoll) to receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). DIC is a monthly tax-free benefit paid to the surviving spouse, children, or parent of a veteran whose death was related to military service or a service-connected condition.
Those who have pending DIC claims based on Agent Orange exposure outside of Vietnam are now eligible to receive retroactive DIC benefits.
To file a new claim for DIC benefits, surviving dependents should file VA Form 21P-534EZ.
Was Your Agent Orange Claim Denied?
If you are suffering from the effects of Agent Orange exposure but VA denied your claim, Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick may be able to help. We offer free case reviews to veterans. Call CCK today at 800-544-9144 to schedule yours.
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