The Board erred when it rejected this Thailand veteran’s lay testimony which placed him near the base perimeter

The Board erred when it rejected this Thailand veteran’s lay testimony which placed him near the base perimeter

Summary:

The Veteran served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, including service as an aircraft mechanic from October 1967 to October 1968 at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base.  He filed a claim for entitlement to service connection for diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia, all to include as secondary to Agent Orange exposure.  At a Board hearing, he testified that while in Thailand, he worked on the flight line by the runway, which included policing the fence on a regular basis.

The VA’s Veterans’ Benefits Manual  provides that herbicide exposure will be factually conceded if service was as an Air Force “security policeman, security patrol dog handler, member of the security police squadron, or otherwise near the air base perimeter as shown by evidence of daily work duties, performance evaluation reports, or other credible evidence.”  The Board noted that the Appellant’s job was not one of the military occupational specialties specifically listed in the Manual.

Outcome:

The Court held that the Board erred because it failed to consider whether the Appellant’s service met the requirement of a job “otherwise near the air base perimeter as shown by evidence of daily work duties, performance evaluation reports, or other credible evidence.”  Additionally, the Board found the Appellant’s statements were not credible because they were not corroborated by the official service department personnel records.  These records did not include any records of exposure to herbicides.

The Court held that the Board erred because it provided no foundation for its negative credibility finding, such as whether and why it would be expected that the personnel records of veterans in the appellant’s situation would normally note if exposure to herbicides had occurred.  The Court vacated the Board’s decision and remanded the case back to the Board for further proceedings.

To read the Court’s decision, click here.

Category: Veterans Law, Case Wins

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