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Study Confirms post-Vietnam C-123 Aircrew and Maintainers Exposed to Agent Orange

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | Disability Compensation

C-123-Agent-Orange-ExposureA new study has concluded that aircrew and maintainers who flew the C-123 Provider during the post-Vietnam era were likely exposed to hazardous levels of dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange. The Air Force used the UC-123 during Vietnam to spray Agent Orange, and the planes were subsequently returned to the United States and used by the Air Force Reserve as cargo aircraft, without any decontamination or exposure testing for Agent Orange.

The study, published February 21st and entitled “Post-Vietnam Military Herbicide Exposures in UC-123 Agent Orange Spray Aircraft,” found that aircrew and maintainers were likely to have inhaled and absorbed dioxin from Agent Orange residue left on the planes from service in Vietnam. It found that the military personnel who served on these planes from 1971 until 1982 were likely exposed to levels of dioxin above the maximum standards set by the Department of Defense.

Contrary to the findings of the study, current VA and Air Force policy takes the position that the dioxin on these planes was bound in “non-available dried residue,” and dried residuals of Agent Orange probably did not lead to meaningful exposure to military personnel who served on or around the C-123. VA uses this scientifically-unsupported position to deny veterans’ disability compensation benefits related to Agent Orange.

The VA has yet to respond to this study, but has asked the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences to study possible health effects from Agent Orange in C-123 post-Vietnam crew members. VA expects results from the Institute of Medicine study in late 2014.

In the meantime, if you’re a post-Vietnam C-123 aircrew member or maintainer, you do not have to wait for the VA to change its position on this issue — this study constitutes new and material evidence which can be used to help show meaningful exposure to dioxin-contamintated Agent Orange. Contact us today if you served on a C-123 Provider during the post-Vietnam era.