VA begins awarding compensation for C-123 Agent Orange claims

Acting swiftly, VA granted first claim in just 16 days


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In 1997, 10 years after retiring from a 34-year career in the Army Reserve and Air Force Reserve, Edward Kosakoski was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Though his last assignment in the Reserve was as commander of the 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts, it was during the mid-1970s and early 1980s that Lt. Col. K was exposed to Agent Orange while flying training missions on several C-123 aircraft previously used for spraying the chemical defoliant in Vietnam.

Last week, VA service connected Col. K’s prostate cancer, awarding him compensation for his C-123 Agent Orange claim.

USAF C-123

VA is acting swiftly to grant compensation to select Air Force personnel exposed to contaminated C-123 aircraft.

I’ve never met Col. K, but his story is captured in the claim file that his wife, Ingrid Kosakoski, filed on his behalf. That file shows a man who was drafted into the Army in 1953 and, after serving two years in France, had joined the Army Reserve, and who had received a commission in the Air Force Reserve after graduating from the University of Connecticut Pharmacy School in 1959. That file also shows that VA received Col. K’s claim prior to the recent regulation change.

After spending decades searching for proof of a connection between C-123s and the conditions known to be caused by Agent Orange, the Institute of Medicine issued a review that provided the supporting evidence VA needed to provide care and compensation to the Air Force and Air Force Reserve personnel who were exposed to Agent Orange through regular and repeated contact with contaminated C-123s and who also developed an Agent Orange-related disability.

When the regulation change took effect earlier this summer, it took VA just 16 days to grant Col. K’s claim. Granting this claim represents a welcomed success for hundreds of flight, ground maintenance, and medical crew members who were assigned to certain Air Force and Air Force Reserve units from 1969 to 1986.

“I have only praise for the VA personnel who handled Ed’s claim in Baltimore and St. Paul,” Ingrid said. “They were professional and compassionate, and I would urge others exposed to Agent Orange with known disabilities to file claims as soon as possible.”

In a recent phone conversation, longtime C-123 advocate and close friend of Col. K, Wes Carter, also stressed the importance of not waiting.

“The Secretary and his staff have worked hard, along with C-123 veterans in getting to this point,” said Carter, who also chairs the C-123 Veterans Association. “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.”

If you or someone you know was exposed to Agent Orange (whether in in Vietnam or its inland waterways, an area the Department of Defense has confirmed use of AO, or as in Col. K’s case aboard a C-123) AND you have a condition presumed to be related to AO, please file a claim for compensation.

If you need help filing a claim or want to talk to someone, you have many options:

  • Speak with an accredited Veterans Service Officer who can help you gather records and file a claim online
  • Call VA at 1-800-827-1000 for advice
  • If you want the fastest decision possible, consider filing a Fully Developed Claim through ebenefits.va.gov. An FDC allows you to submit all your evidence up front, identify any federal records for VA to obtain, and certifies that you have no other evidence to submit.

If you (or your loved one) meet certain conditions, such as financial hardship, advanced age, or terminal illness, VA can expedite your claim – just make sure we are aware of your situation. You or your VSO can notify us in writing, or by calling 1-800-827-1000. If your situation is dire, don’t wait!

Author

Catherine Trombley

Comments

  1. Philip Stanley Hocker    

    Is there any indication that personnel on aircraft carriers and other ships that were stationed a couple of miles off the coast of vietnam were exposed to Agent orange?

  2. Jon Martin    

    I was an Air Policeman (LE) assigned to the 24th SOW, 24thSpsq in 1972 & 1973. I had repeated contact with an entire wing of C123’s; formely used in Vietnam. I flew as an observor or as “Security” on 7 missions that I recall, in addition to the weekly AO (jungle perimetir) spraying of the entire area surrounding Howard AFB; from sprecially equiped UH1N helicopters. When is the DOD finally going to admit that they sprayed us all, and that it’s killing all of us ??????

  3. Rebekah louden    

    My husband died 2002.
    He had cardiovascular disease which resulted in a massive heart attack.
    He served in VietNam 1970-71
    Extensive Agent Orange use!
    I filed a claim but can’t get an update on the status.
    Can you email me a response please.

  4. terry or Cathy    

    Agent Orange exposure on DMZ in S. Korea need updates for 1971 to 1972.

  5. Robert K Bach    

    I was an aircrewman on a P3 Orion Navy Patrol plane. We flew many “Market Time” patrols.
    These consisted of flying altitude of two hundred feet, up and down the coast of Nam.
    I have lung cancer! Why can’t I get any benefit? Don’t tell me that crap wasn’t in the air.

  6. Dolores M.Herrera    

    My husband applied in 87 but was told they didn’t have any money left he is getting 74% but is getting compassion for 100% for ptsd and hearing lost.He was in Vietnam in67-68 right were the were spraying that stuff right now he has dementia so my question is does he get more money or is he at his max.

  7. carlos h rivera    

    Yes the c130 was use also.

  8. Dwight E Nelson    

    My husband has & had several lesions, surgery because of chemicals, herbicides, etc and was stationed in Korea 1973-74 . He worked close by the DMZ zone cleaning the helicopters that was used in Vietnam. When are you going
    to recognize and award him compensation for what he should be awarded. He hAs heart disease, hearing loss, sleep apnea, prostate cancer, diabetis severe. Please look at the known facts, the spraying was done all over that area before, during and after the Vietnam war. Give him compensation for what he is entitled too. I will be waiting to hear from you. My husband was in the Army and had filed an appeal. He has been waiting for more than 2 yrs or more. Thank you, Sharon (wife). I am writing because he is so disappointed with this whole process!

  9. Jesse Cook    

    I filed a claim in March of 2014. My DAV rep. say the VA has made a decision on my claim as of March 10th 2015. I have not been informed of any action or awards as of Aug. 11, 2015. Who can tell me when I will be informed of their rating?

  10. April Stevenson    

    This is great and bittersweet all at the same time. My dad was a Vietnam vet that has already passed from his cancer several years back. Since then my mom has been a struggling widow and receives no veteran’s benefits what so ever as his surviving spouse.

  11. Michael Keller    

    I served in VN late 69-70 and was exposed to AO almost daily for half my tour. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996 at age 46. I was treated then by private doctors but it has recently come back and I am receiving VA treatments and benefits but I have also had Basil Cell Squamous and Melanoma since then.

    Do you know if Melanoma will ever be considered an AO-related disease?

  12. Teresa Best    

    My husband filed on January 23, 2012 for compensation due to exposure to Agent Orange. The VA determined his prostate cancer and diabetes 2 were service-related, and rated his disability at 100%, and he did receive compensation for the disability. He has never received an acknowledgement for his claim related to Agent Orange. He passed away July, 2015. Will there ever be acknowledgement for the claim he submitted Jan 23, 2012?

  13. Ronald Dombrowski    

    I have peripheral neuropathy for over 8 years.In Viet Nam in 1965 & 66, yet the va did not accept my claim.They say it has to be recognized within 1-2 years of seperation. Yet I see others receive compensation for it, no I am not diabetic. I also have ishcemic heart disease, just had stint placed in my heart. My met is 1-3 per my cardiologist .Not sure what else I have to prove, they have all my records. I have appealed and was told by my vso it will take up to 9 years to hear anything. Hope I am still alive

  14. Charles Peter Weber    

    I crawled all over the planes that sprayed the Agent Orange. Anything that had a propeller on it I fixed. I was at Da Nang during the height of spraying. in 1971 to 1972. I have a open claim that they now say is in processing. Sounds good? the claim has been working on for 4 years! Can you please tell me what in processing means? I am 66 years old and would like to get my benefits before I die. My health is not good. Five doctors verified that my problems were from Agent Orange. Any help or information would be appreciated. I don’t want to wait another four or five years. Thanks

  15. Christmas Peter    

    Im happy for the 123 guys…I mean we all know that the guys on 130’s were never exposed…….Still fighting the battle…the VA won’t lift a finger to help!

  16. Craig Weber    

    After 3 appeals, a judge has ruled that my cardiovascular disease (and heart attack), diabetes and peripheral neuropathy were related to Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam conflict. That has been almost 2 months ago and I have yet to see any documentation what disability rating, or financial, I am being granted. I have also submitted an appeal that my stroke and cataracts are related to the cardiovascular disease and the diabetes.

  17. David B. Thomas    

    I am a Vietnam Veteran who was a Caribou flight mechanic stationed at Cam Rahn Bay Air Force Base from Feb. 1968 to
    Feb. 1969. I was exposed to a lot of herbicides which we hauled in the Caribou aircraft 7 days a week. It is about time
    that the V. A. compensates Veterans who were exposed to these herbicides. I am still trying to get compensation through
    the V. A. and our U. S. government. Any one who was in Vietnam should be given money for exposure to herbicides.

    Dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals ever produced by man kind. Dioxin is also called AGENT ORANGE.

    David B. Thomas
    Lumberport, WV

  18. Jerome Carter    

    I was stationed at Clark air base in 1972 through 1973 and did security duties daily walking in and around the c-123. Whenever the flight lines maintenance personnel came out to clean the residue off of those planes they would wash them down and then clean them with some type of solvent. So walked in all of that water and solvent and was inside those planes every night. I’ve now had thyroid disease, cardiomyophy, psoriasis all which were caused by my exposure to agent orange. The dioxin eventually soaked into the ground and now alot of people who still live in Angeles city in the Philippines and their children are also affected. How can I get the VA to finally admit there was agent stored in the Philippines for my connection?

  19. Andy    

    I was in Santiago , Panama in 1992. My wife and I with the Army Reserves , on Task Force Badger. When we where there I woke up one night from the smell of something. I asked the Company Commander about it the next day and he said they sprayed late the day before I said agent orange causes cancer an he said it was not proved. So I told him it was banned from use and he said only in the USA and they had stock piles of it. I had prostrate cancer 5 years ago and now my wife has colon cancer and it spread . She is on palliative care now. How can I make them add do something about it??? We where there 6 Months.

  20. gary mcgaffic    

    These planes were also flown by the 911th at greater Pittsburgh air force reserve.

  21. Patricia Banks    

    My husband died 4/6/00 after 2 days in a coma and 8 contributing causes of death from primary AML Leukemia due to 2years Benzene exposure during work duties consistently. I’d been told
    repeatedly service-connected claim couldn’t be filed but eventually was-Never give up-closure!

  22. Alfred Wayne Harrison    

    So will the Army receive any thing

    1. Catherine Trombley    

      Alfred, this new regulation pertains to former Air Force and Air Force Reserve personnel. However, if you served in Vietnam, you should be covered under the previous laws for presumptive AO. Those apply to anyone who served in Vietnam regardless of what branch they served in. Thank you for your service.

  23. Alfred Wayne Harrison    

    I was in Nam and they sprayed the bunker line

  24. Linda lakatos    

    My husband died of throat cancer. 2 tours of Vietnam nam. Tanker. Have pictures of agent orange but govt said his death. My daughter has cancer. Son and daughter has spinal problems. Daughter has arthritis in face and other ailments. My husband died in 90s. But govt says none of these related to agent orange. I 67 and healthy. His mother and father lived to be old.

  25. Pat jahnke    

    Why are u taking those baby steps to help the Vietnam veterans? Ur lust of Vietnam vets waiting in line for all kinds of problems, does it. Agent Orange effect off spring to thier kid after they were infected in thier kids, ?????????

  26. Kenneth L Miller    

    I welded the tanks that were used to carry Agent Orange when they returned for repair. I have lesions all over my body, have had Squamous Cell Carcinoma, prostrate cancer and diabetes. I was never in Vietnam, but worked on the planes stateside. Up until now, I was told “tough luck”, maybe now the VA will acknowledge my conditions.

    1. Dwight E Nelson    

      Interesting, my husband has the same problem. He was in Korea working on helicopters close to the DMZ zone flying back Friday m Vietnam!! Lesion, heart trouble, prostate cancer, etc.

        1. Sharon-Dwight E Nelson    

          Respond please to my questions!

  27. MIKE    

    What Countries, Cities, out of United States also the years that was C-123 Agent Orange used.

    1. Mark Ledesma    

      Hi Mike, here’s the list of affected military units, Air Force specialty codes, and dates of service for Air Force Veterans and Air Force Reserve personnel who may have been exposed to Agent Orange.

      This is the list as of June 19, 2015.

      Reserve Units
      Pittsburgh International Airport, Pennsylvania, USAF Reserve Station
      Dates: 1972-1982
      -758th Airlift Squadron (AS)
      -911th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (AES)
      -911th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMS)

      Westover AFB, Massachusetts (Westover Air Reserve Base) and Hanscom Field AFB, Massachusetts
      Dates: 1972-1982
      -731st Tactical Airlift Squadron (TAS)
      -74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (AES)
      -901st Organizational Maintenance Squadron (OMS)

      Here is the hyperlink: http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/docs/AO_C123_AFSpecialityCodesUnits.pdf

      1. Ronnie Kitts    

        What about the C-123 (Patches) that was at the Air Force Museum for a while? The chemical smell was so strong you could smell it from 20 feet away. A lot of civilians could have been exposed.

  28. Catherine couey    

    My husband passed in January he had diabetes and neuropathy could I file a claim in his behalf since these illness were associated with agent orange

    1. Mark Ledesma    

      Catherine, I’m sorry for your loss.

      You may be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). It’s a tax free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease. You can read more about the benefit and application process at http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/types-dependency_and_indemnity.asp

      I would also recommend reaching out to a Veterans Service Organization (VSO). They’ll be able to help you with your claims process. You can find our VSO directory at http://www.va.gov/vso/

  29. DANA    

    What if your spouse is already deceased? Do I have a claim?

    1. Wes Carter    

      VA last Friday said widows might be eligible for Dependents Indemnity Compensation. Call one of the veterans’ service organizations for help (DAV, VFW, Legion)

    2. Mark Ledesma    

      Dana, I’m sorry for your loss.

      You may be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), which is a tax free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military Servicemembers who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease. You can read more about the benefit and application process at http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/types-dependency_and_indemnity.asp

      I would also recommend reaching out to a Veterans Service Organization (VSO) as suggested by Wes. They’ll be able to help you with your claims process. You can find our VSO directory at http://www.va.gov/vso/

  30. Rosa Roebuck    

    My husband bless his soul Richard Roebuck served in Vietnam from 1967-1975 and had agent orange. He is deceased for 2 1/2 years. I’m his wife for over 20 years and he had lot of health issues. I have all his records from 1967- now I would like to know if he qualifies for. Also any other program I can receive I’m disable and a widow veteran wife I could use any help please the you and God bless America thanks to all that haves served. My son in the marine’s.

    1. Catherine Trombley    

      Hi Rosa,

      Without seeing all the records it is hard to say for certain for what you would eligible. But from what you are tell me, I suggest you file a claim for Disability Indemnity Compensation. If you husband was never service connected during his life, VA will have to show that his death was due to a condition that should have been service connected. If he never filed during his life for service connection due to an Agent Orange condition, then I don’t believe they can go back further than your claim. However, it is still worth filing. Because your DIC claim will be a little more complicated, I highly encourage you to speak and work with a Veterans Service Officer like the American legion or the DAV. They are located in our regional offices and many hold work sessions at the VA hospitals if that is closer. Bring all your records with you. And please tell your son thank you for his service.

  31. Dennis M. Dowhy    

    When are they going to link COPD with Agent Orange. Already, most of my present medical issues are related to AO. It sucks that the government poisons you and fights you against poisoning you.

    1. Catherine Trombley    

      To my knowledge COPD is not going to be added to the list in the near future.

      Here is how conditions are added to the list — a simple version: the Institute of Medicine conducts a study at someone’s request — VA’s, Congress. It compiles its results and sends a report to VA. VA convenes a panel and that panel makes a recommendation to the Secretary on whether to add a new condition to the list. The recommendations are made on whether there is any scientific evidence (usually, this is whether the Veteran cohort studied has a higher rate of the condition than a similar cohort in the civilian population).

      However, just because a condition is not on the list, does not mean VA wont service connect you. We review those claims on a case-by-case basis and you should gather evidence as you would any other claim, proof of diagnose and a doctor’s statement connecting the condition to your service.

  32. Keith Markstrom    

    Glad to see this quick action.
    Shows the VA can respond quickly to pressure.
    Now let’s speed up the rest of the claims sitting in files for lengthy periods of time.

  33. Robert McKeithen    

    But still no help for Bluewater Navy Vietnam veterans!

    1. Edward Wayne Jeffs    

      Edward Jeff’s is my name . I have been waiting a very long time, years in fact. I need information about my claim can you tell me about my case please send me a text.

    2. Suzette Irvine    

      I am glad that the VA finally covered the c-123 crews, however, my husband has had to deal with 2 cancers when there is no cancer in his family. He lost a kidney to cancer and then developed Hodgkins Lymphoma with horrific chemotherapy. That is a presumptive but NOT blue water navy. His life has been changed has have so many others…and still the congress and the VA do nothing. I will say Mr. Rossie from bluewaternavy.org continues the good fight, but for my husband, he is sure he will die before anything changes.

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