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Court Wins

Thailand Air Force Veteran Wins Benefits for Prostate Cancer

Alyse Phillips

June 6, 2022

Updated: November 20, 2023


Case Summary

The Veteran served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War era from 1971 to 1974.  During his service, he was stationed for about one year at the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand.

The Veteran filed his first claim for service connection for type 2 diabetes and peripheral neuropathy on May 16, 2022.  Unfortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denied the Veteran’s disability claim in a 2015 Rating Decision.

The Veteran filed a new claim for service connection for diabetes in August 2016.  In January 2017, VA also denied this claim.  This time, the Veteran filed a Notice of Disagreement with the help of Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD.  The Veteran filed an additional claim for prostate cancer in January 2019, which VA also denied.

In response, CCK assisted the Veteran in filing a Supplemental Claim in pursuit of service connection for prostate cancer, with evidence relating the prostate cancer to herbicide exposure in Thailand.  In August 2019, VA denied service connection based on the evidence of record at that time.

CCK Argues Herbicide Exposure in Thailand Led to Veteran’s Conditions

Following the multiple VA denials, the case finally reached the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in March 2021.  The Board reviewed all the evidence of record at the time of the Supplemental Claim.

CCK argued that the Veteran was exposed to herbicides, such as Agent Orange, while stationed at the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand.  The Veteran worked as an aircraft mechanic for around 10 to 12 hours a day.  He performed routine maintenance on C-130 aircraft and assisted in the maintenance of C-123 aircraft.  He also took regular trips off base and would ride his bicycle along the perimeter.

In addition, CCK presented evidence that showed that Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base and the aircraft maintenance hangers were within the “500-meter herbicide drift zone.”  CCK also submitted documentation that depicted the aerial herbicide spray system for C-123 aircraft, which was also adapted for C-130 aircraft.

Based on CCK’s arguments, the Board resolved reasonable doubt in the Veteran’s favor, determining he was most likely exposed to herbicide agents during service.  The Board granted service connection based on herbicide exposure for prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy secondary to diabetes.

VA Grants Disability Benefits for Prostate Cancer and More Conditions

Following the March 2021 Board decision, VA awarded a 100 percent evaluation for prostate cancer effective November 2018.  VA also granted a 20 percent rating for diabetes effective November 2013, and a 10 percent rating for peripheral neuropathy in each lower extremity effective September 2014.

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