By Debbie Gregory.
Last month, we reported that the VA had approved disability aid coverage for Agent Orange exposure to Air Force personnel and reservists who had served from 1969 to 1986.
The 2,100+ personnel were with the 906th and 907th Tactical Air groups, the 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift squadrons at Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air Force Base, Ohio; the 731st Tactical Air Squadron and 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts; and the 758th Airlift Squadron, Pittsburgh. They all flew or worked on the Fairchild C-123 aircraft.
After spending years searching for the connection between C-123s and the conditions known to be caused by Agent Orange, the Institute of Medicine’s eventual findings provided the evidence the VA needed to provide care and compensation to the Air Force and Air Force Reserve personnel exposed to Agent Orange through regular and repeated contact with contaminated C-123s and who also developed an Agent Orange-related disability.
To the VA’s credit, the first claim was paid out in just over two weeks.
Retired Air Force Maj. Wes Carter, a former C-123 officer, led the charge for health benefits and compensation.
Carter said, “VA is ready and eager, already reaching out and helping our aircrews and maintenance personnel who are ill. This is the time for C-123 Veterans to get their claims to VA if affected by any of the Agent Orange-associated illnesses. Call the C-123 hotline at 1-800-749-8387 for any questions. I also recommend that vets ask their local VA medical center’s environmental health coordinator for an Agent Orange Registry exam.”
The courtesy of expedited claims processing will be extended to anyone experiencing a financial hardship, advanced age, or a terminal illness, as long as you make them cognizant of the special circumstances.
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Compensation for C-123 Agent Orange Claims Begin: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory