The earliest American military bases in the Vietnam War theater of operations were created in Thailand. The gallant men and women stationed there were mostly "boots on the ground". As a result, they were exposed to many hazards and the same herbicides employed in Vietnam. It's thus common for Vietnam-era Veterans to talk about the vanishing greenery on or around their bases in Thailand, and occasionally even display photos of the vanishing landscapes.
Many vets who served in Thailand during the Vietnam War have been refused compensation by the VA because the U.S. government often either denied ever spraying Agent Orange or other herbicides in Thailand, or claimed that the service person did not have exposure to the perimeter of the base where exposure to Agent Orange was most prevalent.
Compensation for US Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange in Thailand
Veterans who served between February 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975 on or near the perimeters of U.S. military bases in Thailand and were exposed to herbicides and defoliants may be eligible for VA disability payments, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
VA officials indicate that the following men and women might be at risk for exposure:
- Veterans of the United States Air Force who served on Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) bases in Thailand;
- Veterans who served as perimeter guards at RTAF bases, or in proximity to the airbase perimeter;
- Former military personnel stationed at a few outlying military bases in Thailand.
Agent Orange Claims: Which Disabilities Qualify
It will be presumed that Agent Orange has caused the below ailments. Hence, qualified Veterans in Thailand will be given a presumptive service connection for some of the following most common Agent Orange illnesses as of 2020:
- AL Amyloidosis
- Leukemias of the B-cell type
- Diabetes (Type 2)
- Hodgkin’s Disease
- Ischemic Heart Disease
- Multiple Myeloma
- Cancer of the Bladder
- Lymphoma (Non- Hodgkin's)
- Parkinson’s Disease and Parkinsonism
- Early Onset Peripheral Neuropathy
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
- Cancer of the Prostate
- Cancers of the Lungs
- Sarcomas of the Soft Tissue
What Evidence Do You Need to Support Your Case?
Veterans who served on the above-listed military stations in Thailand must show a current disability and an in-service exposure or event. If the current diagnosis is on the presumptive list, then the connection with service will be presumed. If, however, a veteran has a disease that is not on the presumptive list, he will have to show an actual nexus or connection between his service and the current disease.
For Thailand Veterans to prove an in-service event involving herbicide exposure, factual documentation such as daily job assignments, performance assessment records, or other convincing information is required to show that the veteran was in proximity to the perimeter of the base or was otherwise exposed. Credible evidence may include the following examples:
- Occupation in the armed forces, Military Occupational Specialty (MOS);
- Lay statements or buddy letters (such as comments from a service buddy) showing the Veteran's job responsibilities took him or her to the perimeter or close to the perimeter/border.
- Proof showing that the Veteran's leisure activities either carried him within or out of the military base's boundary. Softball and running were common pastimes on several bases' (outside perimeters).
Winning a case in this instance hinges heavily on the testimony of the Veteran and/or other military members or service buddies who joined him for leisure and can attest to how near the activities led them to the base's boundary.
An example of this would be laying up proof that the Veterans' leisure facilities and/or residential quarters and mess halls were within the boundary or the overspray area.
- Photos of the military base where the Veteran served, as well as photos they may have taken while there. To show where you are in relation to the base, photos might help. Arial maps can sometimes be obtained online, and we have had clients mark these maps with where they were located while at the base.
All in all, the more information you can offer about your encounter with the base's perimeter, which was often affected by harmful herbicides, the more convincing your proof will be. At Gang & Associates, we have hired environmental experts to testify as to likely overspray to prove that the contamination reached far beyond the perimeter.
File an Agent Orange Thailand Claim Appeal
Thousands of hours and a significant dollar sum have been devoted to the cause of Veterans. As a result of their exposure to Agent Orange, these individuals and their families deserve financial compensation.
While acknowledging that tactical herbicides were used on Thai air bases, the VA will only connect Veterans whose MOS places them "at or near the base perimeter" with their benefits. There is no official definition of "along or near the base perimeter" by the VA, and regional offices and the Board of Veterans' Appeals have reached contradictory conclusions. Since they were plainly patrolling the perimeter, security patrols (including canine units) are often the only MOS clearly linked to duty on or near the base perimeter.
We've worked with a lot of Thai Royal Air Force Base Veterans over the years, and for many of them, joining the fight to persuade the VA to recognize their claims can be a frustrating process. However, from our perspective, with over 100 years of combined legal experience, we know that there is light at the end of the tunnel when a veteran retains legal counsel, hires the right experts, and pursues the claim aggressively.