Thailand veterans were exposed to the same toxic herbicide agents as Vietnam veterans. We believe Thailand vets deserve a presumption for Agent Orange related illnesses just like Vietnam veterans. Read the full report.
Kerry Baker: In the 1980’s, Congress passed the Agent Orange Act, making it easier for Vietnam Veterans to get VA disability benefits for certain diseases that are medically linked to Agent Orange exposure. The resulting law says, “Veterans who had boots on the ground in Vietnam, and have one of those diseases are automatically service connected.” VA calls this a Presumption of Service Connection. But the VA’s presumption leaves out veterans who served in Thailand during the Vietnam War even though the Vets stationed in Thailand were exposed to the same toxic herbicide agents as Vietnam Vets.
At CCK, we think Thailand Veterans deserve a presumption for Agent Orange related illnesses just like Vietnam Veterans. Here’s part of the reason why. Back in the 80’s, the Agent Orange presumption was created because the government records about herbicide use were incomplete, making it extremely hard for Vietnam Vets to show individual evidence of exposure. For example, in a 1986 report to the White House, researchers found that only 2% of military records were preserved in the National Archives and noted that herbicide records were not considered a priority for record keeping. Thailand Veterans exposed to Agent Orange face the same lack of evidence and deserve the same benefit of the doubt. In fact, the lack of herbicide records may be even worse for Thailand Veterans. The VA has only admitted that Thailand Veterans may have been exposed to herbicides on the perimeters of their bases. But a memo from an Agent Orange working group found that a large portion of fire-based perimeter spray operations were never recorded at all.
The government trusted these veterans to defend our country and it should trust them now when they say that war time service made them sick. Just like Vietnam Veterans, Thailand Veterans deserve a presumption.