Proving Your Thailand Agent Orange VA Disability Claim
Were you denied VA disability benefits for a disability that is from Agent Orange exposure in Thailand? This guide provides straight-forward direction and tips on how to prove to the VA that you were exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides while stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam War.
Show you were stationed at the correct time and placeThe VA will concede exposure to Agent Orange in Thailand in some instances if you can first show you were at the correct base at the correct dates. You must show you served on Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) bases at U-Tapao, Ubon, Nakhon Phanom, Udorn, Takhli, Korat, and Don Muang anytime between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975. Army Veterans may also have been stationed on some small Army installations during this time.
If you do not have proof you were stationed in Thailand during this time period, you have several options:
1) Order a copy of your Military Personnel File using Standard Form 180. Your Military Personnel File may contain documents such as orders or performance evaluations which could be used to show your were in Thailand.
2) Track down old buddies. If you are still in contact with your fellow servicemembers, have them write you a "buddy letter" verifying you were indeed stationed in Thailand during the correct time period. The internet can be a good source of tracking down members of your former unit.
3) Find photographs of yourself while in Thailand. A photo with the name of the base is particularly helpful.
4) Did you write letters home? If so, see if the recipient still has those letters. The APO stamp on the envelope can help show from where and when the letter was mailed.
Army Thailand Vets are given the shaftIf you were an Army Veteran stationed in Thailand, the rules are a bit more stringent to show Agent Orange exposure. In addition to showing that you were stationed at the correct time and place, you must also have been a member of a military police unit or assigned a military police MOS, AND you have evidence that your duties placed you at or near the base perimeter such as with security duty.
If you were not a MP whose duties placed them at the base perimeter, don't fret! This just means the VA will not concede exposure to Agent Orange but you can still win your case by showing actual exposure or direct contact with Agent Orange! An experienced Veteran's disability attorney can assist you with this.
Air Force Veterans have more leewayAir Force Veterans have some more options. For Air Force Veterans, the VA will concede exposure to Agent Orange if you were a security policeman, security patrol dog handler, member of the security police squadron, OR otherwise served near the air base perimeter. For those Air Force Veterans who were not with the security police, the key to winning your claim is to produce credible evidence that your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), daily work duties, or otherwise, placed you near the perimeter of the base. The reason it is important to prove service near the perimeter of the bases is that unlike in Vietnam (where Agent Orange was sprayed in large swathes of countryside using airplanes), in Thailand, it was limited to use around U.S. military installations. The use was limited to reducing foliage around the bases themselves to increase visibility of potential enemies and reduce cover for snipers near the base.
How do I prove I served near a base perimeter in Thailand?Veterans have a number of ways in which they can prove service along the perimeter. As mentioned above, these include their service records, buddy statements, well as MOS records that describe the necessity of perimeter service. The Law Offices of Edward M. Farmer have won Thailand Agent Orange cases in the following ways:
1. A Veteran stationed at U-Tapoa was an airplane mechanic. His work frequently placed him on the flight line at U-Tapoa. The flight line was about a dozen yards from the perimeter. We used pictures of him on the flight line to show his proximity to the perimeter.
2. A Veteran was stationed at Udorn during monsoon season. The center of the base frequently flooded so he was forced to travel along the perimeter to avoid the water and get to midnight chow on the other side of the base. I used a map of Udorn to show the route taken by the Veteran was along the perimeter.
3. A Veteran stationed at Udorn ran every morning around the perimeter of the base. We had a buddy statement from a fellow service member who ran with him to corroborate his story.
4. A Veteran at Nakhon Phanom's barracks were about 30 meters from the perimeter. The barracks were open to allow the breeze (and herbicides) to blow in. He also road a bus every day to his work site. The bus route he used to get to his work station also ran meters from the perimeter fence.
An experienced VA disability attorney can help you think of ways to place you near the perimeter of a Thailand base.
Don't forget the medical evidence!Once the VA concedes exposure or you show direct exposure, you must next show that you have a current disability that is a result from Agent Orange. The VA has a list of diseases that are presumed linked to Agent Orange exposure including: diabetes mellitus type II; Hodgkin's disease; Ischemic heart disease; coronary artery disease; and Parkinson's. The full list of Agent Orange presumptive diseases can be found on the VA's website.
If you believe that you have a disease caused by Agent Orange exposure, but that disease is not on the VA's list of diseases associated with Agent Orange, you may still qualify for service-connection if you have medical evidence linking that disease to Agent Orange exposure. An experienced VA disability attorney can help you obtain the necessary medical evidence.