Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick (CCK) forced VA to make public for all veterans the memorandum used to deny many Thailand veterans’ claims based upon exposure to Agent Orange and/or herbicides. CCK did this through a Freedom of Information Request. The document entitled MEMORANDUM FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS dated August 11, 2015 shows why the VA has continued to deny veterans disability benefits based upon Agent Orange exposure in Thailand.
The Air Force Historical Research Agency at the Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama wrote the following conclusion for the VA: “no documentation or evidence has been found in the holdings of the Air Force Historical Research Agency showing tactical herbicides such as Agent Orange were ever used on any USAF installation in Thailand for vegetation control during the Vietnam era.” Based upon this report, the VA has continued to deny many veterans claims seeking disability benefits based upon Agent Orange exposure in Thailand.
The same memorandum specifically acknowledges that “the use of commercial herbicides is documented”. VA has created an illusory distinction between the use of “tactical herbicides” for which compensation benefits are payable and “commercial herbicides” for which benefits may not be payable. The reality is no matter what you call the herbicides used in Thailand, they all contained the same harmful chemicals. Therefore, veterans should be granted the same presumption of exposure as Vietnam veterans. If a veteran states, “I was exposed to Agent Orange in Thailand,” VA as part of its Duty to Assist will ask the Air Force or the Joint Services Records Research Center (JSRRC) if Agent Orange was used in Thailand. The Air Force or JSRRC will send back the August 11, 2015 memorandum and then VA will deny the claim. What VA is not asking the Air Force is whether other types of herbicides were used in Thailand. If the VA asked that question, the answer would have to be yes, herbicides were used as the August 11, 2105 memorandum states. VA must stop denying claims because veterans state they were exposed to Agent Orange in Thailand and grant them based upon the exposure to herbicides.