As some of you may know my background (Vietnam veteran, served in area where Agent Orange was heavily used, possible exposure to AO in a defoliated area while on patrol), this is naturally a subject of interest to me.
Thanks, A Yooper, for making this information available, as even if it doesn't directly affect any of us here, it is still useful to know, and to share with any servicemen from that time who may come here to this forum and may be affected by this.
In reading the article that A Yooper linked, I'm concerned that I didn’t see the word "presumptive" mentioned as the measure for qualifying for this benefit. (Actually, the word is used once in the article, but its context is a bit vague). "Presumptive" qualification was the case for those of us who were "boots-on-the-ground," that is, actually assigned to a military unit in-country.
That was important, because it made qualification for VA benefits actually somewhat easy, because all one had to do was present one's military discharge paper (DD Form 214, which records service in Vietnam) along with a copy of PCa diagnosis (preferably from a well-known lab, such as Bostwick), and approval was automatic.
It sounds like from the article that military personnel who apply for this new benefit (primarily Air Force personnel, I would assume) will have to submit paperwork proof that they as individuals were indeed assigned to and were present on a particular identified contaminated aircraft within a particular time span.
Based on my own experience in the army during that era, I presume they would likely be able to do that only by submitting copies of orders they had assigning them to an area where those specific aircraft were, and possibly even placing them directly on those aircraft. But how many of them would still have in their possession copies of such orders received during service that long ago? And if they don't, it may be very difficult to obtain copies of those orders now, after so many years, assuming copies of those orders were ever permanently kept at all.
I'm talking about
unit orders, that is, lower level command orders, assigning specific individuals to specific aircraft. I know from my own experience in the army that such lower level orders, unlike those issued at, say, battalion level or higher, were not always kept in permanent file.
Thus, the documentation that the guys who may now qualify for this benefit are going to need may not exist any more, or be very difficult to come by, so many years later. And without such documentation, those guys may not be able to satisfy the VA requirement of "proof" (that is, documentation) that they qualify, even if they were actually on those contaminated flights.
Now the article does cite by name some specific Air Force units in one paragraph. But, again, I'm not sure that just being assigned to one of those units is going to be enough to qualify a person by the standards that the VA is probably going to use.
But maybe I'm also talking out of my sphere of knowledge here, being army. Do any of you Air Force guys or Navy pilots (Purgatory?) know different? Were aircraft assignment orders specific and permanently maintained documents, even at lower levels? If not, I'm afraid, as noted, that some of those guys who are going to qualify for these benefits because they really were there, aren't going to get them because they won't be able to come up with the documentation (specifically, copies of orders) that would place them there at the right time and right place, that is, specifically on a contaminated flight, and therefore satisfy the VA application requirement.
Unless the VA is planning on having a less stringent paperwork requirement for this benefit, but I don't see any indication of that in the article.
Bureaucratic, it would seem, but of course that's often the way our government works.
Anyway, good luck to those guys who do apply to the VA for this. I hope the ones who do qualify do get it.
BTW, here is the VA's official page discussing Agent Orange and the PCa link. There are other pages as well on the VA site that deal with other aspects of AO exposure:www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/prostate_cancer.asp
Chronic prostatitis (age 60 on)
BPH w/ urinary obstruction, 6/2011
Ongoing high PSA, 7/2011-12/2011
Biopsy, 12/2011: positive 3/12 (90%, 70%, 5%)
Gleason 6(3+3), T1c
No mets, PCa likely still organ contained
IMRT w/ HT (Lupron), 4/2012-6/2012
PSAs (since post-IMRT): <0.1