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Court Wins

CCK Assists Thailand Veteran in Securing VA Compensation for Coronary Artery Disease

Jenna Zellmer

March 29, 2022

Updated: November 20, 2023

multiple sclerosis

Summary of the Case

The Veteran served honorably in the United States Army from June 1970 to November 1974 at Camp Ramasun in Thailand, which is located near the Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base.  He received the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal for his service.

In December 2015, the Veteran submitted a VA disability benefits claim for ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease (CAD), based on herbicide exposure at the Camp Ramasun base perimeter.  He also requested benefits for his service-related hypoxemia and eczema.  Unfortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs denied service connection for all three conditions in a July 2016 Rating Decision.

The Veteran filed a Notice of Disagreement following the unfavorable VA decision.  After VA again denied service connection, the Veteran filed another appeal, bringing the case before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

Board Grants Service Connection for Coronary Artery Disease

The case finally reached the Board in March 2019, with Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD representing the Veteran.

CCK asserted that the Veteran’s coronary artery disease was the result of exposure to herbicides (e.g., Agent Orange) while serving in Thailand during the Vietnam era, and his treatment records reflected this diagnosis.  VA considers CAD to be an Agent Orange presumptive condition.

In an affidavit, the Veteran noted that he worked near to the perimeter of Ramasun, installing barbed wire, filling sandbags, and building bunkers.  He also mentioned that his barracks were very close to the perimeter of the base.  VA case law states that if a veteran served on a U.S. Army base in Thailand during the Vietnam era and their duties placed them near or at the base perimeter, herbicide exposure may be presumed.

Based on this and other evidence gathered and presented by CCK, the Board granted the Veteran entitlement to service connection for CAD.  In a 2015 rating decision, VA awarded compensation at a 10 percent rating for CAD, effective from December 2015 (i.e., the date of his initial claim).

CCK Helps Veteran Secure Increased Rating for CAD

In a November 2019 decision letter, VA increased the Veteran’s rating from 10 to 30 percent, effective from October 8, 2019.  In February 2021, with the assistance of CCK, the Veteran secured an earlier effective date – now December 30, 2015 – for his 30 percent rating for CAD, significantly boosting his retroactive grant of benefits.

If you are interested in learning more, read about how CCK helped another Thailand Veteran win TDIU benefits for type 2 diabetes and ischemic heart disease.

About the Author

Bio photo of Jenna Zellmer

Jenna joined CCK in January of 2014 as an appellate attorney, was named Managing Attorney in September of 2019, and now serves as a Partner at the firm. Her law practice focuses on representing disabled veterans at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

See more about Jenna