In an attempt to combat the guerrilla war tactics used during the Vietnam War, the US sprayed Agent Orange on millions of acres of land in Vietnam. Storage areas for Agent Orange spanned from Southeast Asia to bases in the United States.
Storage Areas for Agent Orange Outside of Vietnam
While it became quickly apparent that Agent Orange was toxic, and any exposure could be dangerous, spraying continued for years. The toxic herbicide was stored in other countries besides Vietnam during the war, and it was tested elsewhere too. Just as veterans in combat were being exposed to Agent Orange as it was sprayed, those working at the storage sites were also exposed to the toxic chemical.
Agent Orange in Thailand
Several reports show that Agent Orange and other herbicides were used and stored on numerous Royal Thai Air Force Bases (RTAFB) during the Vietnam War. These bases include: Ubon, Udorn, Takhli, Korat, Don Muang, U-Tapao, and Nakhom Phanom. The US used C-123 aircraft to spray the herbicides over the forests of Vietnam during Operation Ranch Hand. These C-123s were often staged at Air Force bases in Thailand, and the barrels and spraying equipment on the aircrafts were known to leak, exposing service members to the toxic herbicides.
In addition to being storage areas for Agent Orange, herbicides were used on these Air Force bases to control vegetation along the perimeter of the bases in order to improve visual observation of the perimeter.
Agent Orange After the War
After the war in Vietnam, barrels containing herbicides were stored on Johnston Atoll, a small strip of land off the coast of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. The barrels were stored there until they were incinerated at sea in approximately 1977. Before being transferred to Johnston Atoll, Gulfport, Mississippi served as one of the storage areas for Agent Orange and other herbicides until 1977.
Herbicides Stored at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
While Agent Orange was burned at sea after the war, another “rainbow herbicide” of the Vietnam War era called Agent Blue, could not be burned disposed of via incineration due to its high concentration of arsenic. Agent Blue was stored at Johnston Atoll along with Agent Orange, but was then stored at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona. Since Agent Blue could not be burned, the herbicide was sprayed on the Air Force base as a way to dispose of the remaining stores. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base was known is home to the aircraft boneyard, where retired military aircraft are stored. Agent Blue was used from approximately 1973 to 1977 on the Air Force Base grounds.
Rules for Disability Compensation Related to Agent Orange Exposure
The VA presumes that anyone who served in country in Vietnam with boots on the ground anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 was exposed to Agent Orange. If you meet this requirement, you do not need to prove actual exposure to Agent Orange to receive compensation for an illness that is caused by Agent Orange exposure. This same presumption exists for those who served in the Korean demilitarized zone between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971. Members of the Air Force Reserves who worked on C-123 aircraft after the Vietnam War, and those who served in a regular Air Force unit location where C-123 aircraft were assigned between 1969 and 1986 are also eligible for the presumption.
Those who were exposed to Agent Orange outside of Vietnam or Korea must provide evidence that they were actually exposed to the herbicide. This includes those who served at military bases in Thailand, bases where Agent Orange was stored and tested.
Once exposure to Agent Orange has been proven, service connection will be presumed for illnesses that are listed by the VA as being associated with Agent Orange exposure. You can also apply for benefits for other illnesses, but you will have to show a medical connection between herbicide exposure and your disability.
If you have been denied VA disability benefits for a medical condition due to exposure to Agent Orange, contact the veterans attorneys at Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD for a free case evaluation.