19 APR 2022 – THE FOLLOWING “FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESIONS”DOCUMENT WAS ADDED TO THIS PAGE. HERE IS THE LINK: Agent Orange Exposure and VA Disability FAQs
5 MAR 2022 – MAJOR UPDATE TO THIS PAGE. PLEASE READ BILL SHORT’S BRIEF MEMO BELOW. HIS LETTER IS FOLLOWED BY A RECENTLY REVAMPED AND VASTLY IMPROVED CONTENT SECTION
Task Force ‘73 Agent Orange
4 March 2022
From: Task Force ‘73 Agent Orange.
To: All ‘73er Hands.
The information contained within our Class website, entitled “Agent Orange Information” has just been updated with the addition of a list of volunteer ‘73er “Advisors,” and their contact information. There is no reason why any ‘73er cannot get the information or help needed regarding the submission of a VA VHA health care claim. We are a Team with a mission: to help any ‘73er in need.
We began by focusing upon our Class’s unique exposure to Agent Orange challenge. Since then, many Classmates have been helped. Our outreach expanded to help other USNA classes, as well as other Veterans. That necessitated the forming of a non-profit organization, Task Force 73 for Veterans, Inc. This issue is one ALL ‘73ers should be aware of, and pro-active about, as passionately as our Team Members.
We have successfully assisted ‘73er Veterans to completely reverse their VA disability status from zero to as much as 100%… Pro Bono and Non Sibi. In the coming days and weeks, we will be offering further outreach via Zoom meetings and by Webinar. Our primary objective has been to help anyone and all in need, and to be able to report: “All hands present or accounted for, Sir!” This includes all who were sworn in with us on 30 June 1969. “Once a Classmate, always a Classmate.”
We will be posting a list of the many ‘73ers who have selflessly assisted in accomplishing this mission, which is a major contributor to our USNA ‘73 Class legacy, for the right reason(s).
Best/ Bill/ Non Sibi/ Semper Fi Marines/ Hooyah SEALs!
AGENT ORANGE EXPOSURE AND VA DISABILITY ASSISTANCE
Agent Orange (AO) was a tactical herbicide used to clear vegetation for U.S. military operations during the Viet Nam war, when 20 million gallons of AO were dispersed in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos that contaminated the air, soil, vegetation and waters throughout that region. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange may have experienced one or more of the following exposure-related illnesses (AO Presumptive Medical Conditions). If you have experienced one or more of these 17 illnesses, and served on board the USS Vancouver or Cleveland in July, 1970; or were assigned to one of the ‘Blue Water Navy’ ships off Viet Nam during First Class cruise; or were in Viet Nam or Viet Nam coastal waters any time prior to May 7, 1975, then you may be eligible to receive VA disability compensation (a monthly tax-free payment) and VA healthcare coverage. Spouses can continue to receive monetary support from the VA after a Veteran’s death.
2022 VA Agent Orange Presumptive Medical Conditions
Chronic B-cell Leukemia
Respiratory Cancers (including lung cancer)
Some Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, or Mesothelioma)
Chloracne (or other types of similar acneiform diseases)
Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
Ischemic Heart Disease
Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset
Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
If you are considering an application for VA disability compensation, our classmates who have successfully completed the VA disability compensation process highly recommend contacting them first – to proactively avoid the bureaucratic pitfalls of the VA application process. Those pitfalls can add many months to the VA approval process.
’73 VOLUNTEER VA ADVISORS – most of whom have successfully applied for VA disability compensation. (* = Medical Conditions)
Bob Adams – email@example.com; 910-916-1982.
Bob Apple – firstname.lastname@example.org; 310-739-3143. (*prostate cancer)
Bob Bartron – email@example.com; 916-428-1838. (*Parkinson’s; Type 2 diabetes; Chronic Kidney Disease–Stage 4; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy; depression.)
Wes Bergazzi – firstname.lastname@example.org; 540-429-0862. (*hearing loss)
Tom Broderick – email@example.com; 757-761-4138. (*ischemic coronary artery disease)
Dave Caccamo – Dpcaccamo@protonmail.com; 919-847-7748. (*ischemic heart disease)
John Di Leonardo – firstname.lastname@example.org; 215-359-5268. (*coronary artery disease/atrial fibrillation/type2 diabetes/hearing loss/knee injury)
John Edvardsen – email@example.com; 407-324-2268. (*prostate cancer)
Bob Elflein – firstname.lastname@example.org; 734-276-8828.
Rick Elliott – email@example.com; 703-268-8568. (*bladder cancer/prostate cancer)
Jim Garban – firstname.lastname@example.org; 858-442-7585. (*testicular cancer/type2 diabetes/prostate cancer/hypertension)
Scott Haney – email@example.com; 928-503-0308. (*5 or 6 AO presumptive diagnoses)
Steve Harkins – firstname.lastname@example.org; 484-757-0873. (*prostate cancer/atrial fibrillation/detached retinas/feet neuropathy)
Doc Hemberger – email@example.com; 817-233-4440. (*ischemic heart disease)
Ken Jacobsen – firstname.lastname@example.org; 508-965-0061. (*Parkinson’s)
Jack Kirwan – email@example.com; 916-690-7370. (*hypertension/chronic sinusitis/sleep apnea)
Bill Kordis – firstname.lastname@example.org; 703-863-2851. (*prostate cancer/frozen shoulder/hearing loss)
Dave/Barbara Lucas – email@example.com; 210-260-4135. (*TBI (traumatic brain injury)/FTD – exacerbated by AO)
Dave Novak – firstname.lastname@example.org; 612-282-2168. (*bladder cancer/coronary artery disease/tinnitus/hearing loss/depression/anxiety/OCD)
Bryant Orr – email@example.com; 770-584-2882. (*ischemic heart disease)
Andy Pease – firstname.lastname@example.org; 408-348-3900. (*Parkinson’s)
Otto Reimann – email@example.com; 219-789-8555. (*prostate cancer)
Bob Shary – Rbshary2@gmail.com; 713-253-0901. (*early onset prostate cancer/hearing loss/sleep apnea)
Bill Short – firstname.lastname@example.org; 571-572-5048. (*bladder cancer)
Harry Siegel – email@example.com; 240-994-6210. (*replaced hips & knees/kidney & gallbladder & adrenal gland removal/neuropathy/hypertension)
Tom Simmonds – firstname.lastname@example.org; 208-284-6325. (*ischemic heart disease)
Dan Thigpen – email@example.com; 858-663-8703. (*myocardial infarction/atherosclerosis/pericardial adhesions & ischemic heart disease/tinnitus)
Pat Virtue – firstname.lastname@example.org; 630-886-6973. (*knee surgeries)
Chuck Voith – email@example.com; 214-476-2302. (*PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)/clinical depression/hypertension)
Steve Yuhas – firstname.lastname@example.org; 585-690-2646. (*prostate cancer/BPH/tinnitus)
Other VA assistance resources are available – including Veterans Service Officers and VA disability lawyers – to assist USNA classmates throughout their VA disability application process. Call or email ’73 VA Advisor Bill Short – who maintains a current list of VA specialists – at email@example.com; 571-572-5048 to access these pro bono VA resources.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
The first important administrative step is to complete an “intent to file a claim” with the VA, which starts the clock and establishes your claim. The VA intent to file form can be found at the following link: https://www.va.gov/resources/your-intent-to-file-a-va-claim/ .
Also, collect your DD214 and all military & civilian medical records that corroborate your medical condition. Collect copies of your ship manifest and deck log documents as proof of your presence in Viet Nam. Requesting several “buddy letters” from shipmates who will verify your presence on the ship when it was in Viet Nam usually helps expedite the VA evaluation process. Ship manifest & deck logs, and DD214 search functions, can be found below in DOCUMENTATION/PROOF OF SERVICE.
HOW TO FILE A VA DISABILITY CLAIM (click on the following link): https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/98484/filing-a-va-claim-for-disability-compensation/?utm_source=middle&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=VetResources&utm_id=05JAN2022
Usually, the VA requests additional information after receiving a claim. And once you satisfy their initial request for additional information, the VA will likely ask for MORE information. This back and forth information exchange with the VA takes many months, and is why we recommend consulting either a ’73 VA Advisor from the above list, or a Veterans Service Officer (DAV, American Legion, VFW, County government) to proactively provide information – with the initial claim – that seasoned advisors know the VA will be requesting.
DOCUMENTATION/PROOF OF SERVICE FOR USS VANCOUVER AND USS CLEVELAND
The following ship list was downloaded from the following section of the VA Website: https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp
Page 31 of this list states that USS Cleveland (LPD-7) [Amphibious Transport Dock] sent Naval Academy Midshipmen on training mission ashore at Da Nang on 9-10 July, 1970
DD214 Search Link: https://dd214direct.com/?utm_source=Google&utm_campaign=NB_DD214_Search_Google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=how%20do%20i%20get%20a%20copy%20of%20my%20dd214&gclid=Cj0KCQiAip-PBhDVARIsAPP2xc3ol8VYfrboKL1ps2S2N2CrJvl72iVxg0qZlsSX9qbENjiPfJLgIyYaAv1nEALw_wcB
TRACKING THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF OUR CLASS OF 1973
’73 VA ADVISOR ANDY PEASE (firstname.lastname@example.org; 408-348-3900) IS BUILDING A COMPREHENSIVE USNA ’73 DATABASE
The primary purpose is to locate all members of USNA ’73, and identify those needing assistance – with primary focus on classmates exposed to Agent Orange – for use in epidemiological analyses to improve VA services. Our ’73 database includes 1,409 USNA ’73 alumni, 902 of whom graduated (90 deceased) and 478 of whom did not graduate (29 deceased).
We are asking ALL ’73 classmates to contact Andy (email@example.com) to provide him with your current contact information. The other critical data you can provide are 1) All Vietnam assignments/dates; 2) All Agent Orange Presumptive Medical Conditions; 3) VA disability filing date; 4) VA disability approval date; 5) Current VA disability rating.
ADDITIONAL ON-LINE RESOURCES REGARDING VA DISABILITY BENEFITS
ELIGIBILITY FOR VA DISABILITY BENEFITS (click on the following link): https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/
AGENT ORANGE EXPOSURE & VA DISABILITY COMPENSATION (click on the following link): https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/agent-orange/
HOW TO APPEAL A VA DISABILITY CLAIM DECISION (click on the following link): https://www.va.gov/decision-reviews/
RETIRED VETERANS WITH COMBAT RELATED DISABILITIES (click on the following link): https://www.va.gov/resources/combat-related-special-compensation-crsc/
VA DEPENDENCY AND INDEMNITY COMPENSATION FOR DEPENDENTS, SPOUSES AND PARENTS (click on the following link): https://www.va.gov/disability/dependency-indemnity-compensation/
STATE VA DISABILITY BENEFITS (click on the following link): https://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-state-benefits/state-veterans-benefits-directory.html
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The following document was prepared by a number of our classmates. The following link provides a .PDF version: Agent Orange Exposure and VA Disability FAQs
This guide is very well-written and contains wisdom and information that Classmates have acquired as they filed for VA Disability Assistance.
LEGACY AGENT ORANGE INFORMATION WEBSITE POSTINGS
JANUARY 1, 2021 – According to the following article, the version of the National Defense Authorization Act that was passed by by both the Senate and House, overriding a Presidential veto, is now law, and adds bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism to the list of conditions linked to Agent Orange exposure. This means that once a Veteran who has one of these conditions has satisfactorily established that he/she was exposed to Agent Orange, the Department of Veterans Affairs should by default grant an appropriate level of disability compensation to that individual, and that Veteran should also qualify for treatment of the condition at a VA health facility. MOAA – FY 2021 NDAA Becomes Law After Veto Override
DECEMBER 3, 2020 – the following article indicates that the impending Defense Authorization Act may recognize certain medical conditions that can be attributed to Agent Orange Exposure: Defense Bill Would Add 3 New Diseases to Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions List | Military.com
NOVEMBER 25, 2020 – Here is an update on the status the VA’s analysis of whether to recognize that certain medical conditions can be attributed to exposure to Agent Orange: Research Delays Push Back VA Decision on New Agent Orange Conditions | Military.com
DECEMBER 2, 2019 – PLEASE SEE THE FOLLOWING Update from Bill Short
Task Force 73 Agent Orange (TF 73 A.O.)
Task Force 73 for Veterans (TF 73 for Veterans), Inc.
Update 21 November 2019
After reviewing all the gouge we have posted on this website, I’ve suggested we remove a couple entries from the past that have become “OBE,” and rearrange our “gouge” items so that they are in the following order. I suggest reading this update of 21 November 2019 and then the following:
- Task Force 73 Agent Orange Update – 28 May 2018.
- Task Force 73 Agent Orange – Update 7 September 2018.
- Agent Orange Checklist.
- “Diseases Related to Agent Orange.” Source: va.gov.
- “Agent Orange – a Relentless Tragedy.” American Legion Magazine – July 2018.
- “VA Extends Agent Orange Presumption to ‘Blue Water Navy’ Veterans.” – Source: va.gov
- The VA’s new five-part video tutorial series its New On-line Disability Compensation Form Tool – (accessible on VA’s Office of Information and Technology (OIT) YouTube page)
If you have decided to initiate a VA VHA health care claim due to your exposure to Agent Orange while on our summer of 1970 Youngster cruise, which included a stop in Da Nang, Viet Nam, or as a “Blue Water Navy” Veteran of Viet Nam, then continue by first reading:
- All the other “gouge” references on this “Agent Orange Information” lead.
Once that’s accomplished, contact me via email. We’ll setup a time for a “short and to the point” phone call and you will save yourself invaluable time, effort, and possible frustration by doing so. Our Teams have amassed a great amount of experience dealing with the VA and VHA health care claims, and so far have a 100% success rate in helping Classmates achieve claim approval.
- My best advice: Do not approach this challenge by yourself. This applies whether you were a High Striper, Super, or Man-in-Ranks. There are many ‘73er VA VHA health care claims Veterans on our Teams who are ready to help you!
Finally, if you find yourself in need of filing such a claim, remember that having some sort of faith can provide you with a much needed foundation upon which you can have hope that whatever challenge you are facing, can be met head-on with great confidence, courage and optimism. Any questions, just ASK!
Best/ Bill/ Non Sibi.
Bill Short ‘73
Here are the topics and “gouge” in the order that Bill suggested.
Task-Force-73-Agent-Orange-Update-28-May-2018 – http://1973.usnaclasses.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2018/05/Task-Force-73-Agent-Orange-Update-28-May-2018.pdf
Task Force 73 Agent Orange – Update 7 September 2018 – http://1973.usnaclasses.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2018/09/TF-73-Agent-Orange-Task-Force-Update-7-September-2018.pdf
Agent Orange Action Checklist (for use when filing a claim) – http://1973.usnaclasses.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2018/03/Agent-Orange-Action-Checklist.pdf
Diseases Related to Agent Orange – https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/index.asp
“Agent Orange – A Relentless Tragedy” – Agent Orange – A Relentless Tragedy
“VA Extends Agent Orange Eligibility to Blue Water Navy Veterans” – VA Extends Agent Orange Presumption to Blue Water Navy
“VA YouTube Tutorial on the New On-line 526 Digital Disability Compensation Form Tool” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPuBrD-0niU&list=PLt_058CfeU2oqhqiIcbbYPgWPOY5fucl-
Here is some additional further information that may prove useful.
- Some classmates have expressed concern that the VA may be under-compensating them for their Service-connected disabilities. The following link to 38 CFR Book C, Schedule for Rating Disabilities, should prove helpful in this regard. It lays out, in detail, the legal framework for determining compensation. https://www.benefits.va.gov/warms/bookc.asp
- Whether a Vietnam Veteran has or has not been diagnosed with an Agent Orange type health challenge, but was exposed to it, he/she shouldbe registered with the VA. There is no cost but significant possible benefit. You can still apply for disability compensation if you were exposed to Agent Orange.