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Court Wins

Korean DMZ Veteran Wrongly Denied Presumptive Service Connection

Alyse Phillips

March 18, 2022

Updated: June 20, 2024

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Case Summary

The Veteran served on active military duty from August 1967 to February 1971, including several months of service in Korea in 1970.  He initially filed a claim in February 2018 for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation for prostate cancer.

In June 2018, VA denied the veteran service connection for prostate cancer, as well as bladder incontinence and erectile dysfunction secondary to the cancer.  The Veteran filed a Notice of Disagreement with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board).

CCK Argues Service Connection Based on Agent Orange Exposure in Korean DMZ

CCK represented the Veteran before the Board in June 2021.  CCK argued that the Veteran should be service connected for prostate cancer based on Agent Orange exposure at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in 1970.

CCK cited the June 2018 rating decision, in which VA had claimed that “available scientific and medical evidence does not support the conclusion that the condition (i.e., prostate cancer) is associated with herbicide exposure.”  However, as CCK argued, prostate cancer is an Agent Orange presumptive condition.  According to VA regulations, veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and since developed prostate cancer are entitled to presumptive service connection, provided they served in qualifying locations and time periods.

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which took effect January 1, 2020, extended presumptive service connection to veterans who served in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971.  The Veteran submitted an affidavit in March 2020, stating that he served at Osan Air Base in South Korea from October 1970 to February 1971.  While there, he was also stationed at Radar Base M-300, which was about two to three miles from the DMZ.  The Veteran’s medical and service personnel records rendered this affidavit and other lay statements competent and credible.

Board Grants Service Connection for Prostate Cancer

Based on the evidence presented by the Veteran and CCK, the Board granted the Veteran entitlement to presumptive service connection for prostate cancer based on herbicide exposure.  The secondary conditions of bladder incontinence and erectile dysfunction were remanded by the Board for further development.

On August 24, 2021, the Veteran was granted VA benefits at a 100 percent rate and special monthly compensation (SMC-k) effective from March 1, 2018.

About the Author

Bio photo of Alyse Phillips

Alyse is a Supervising Attorney at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Since joining the firm in August of 2016, she has specialized in representing disabled veterans and their dependents before the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about Alyse