Service members working on C-123 planes, post-Vietnam, were exposed to dangerous levels of dioxin, according to a new scientific report published in Environmental Research. Disturbingly, sick veterans who worked onboard the C-123’s, after the Vietnam War, have had their medical disability claims routinely rejected by the VA.
From 1962 to 1971 Agent Orange was sprayed across Vietnam from American C-123 planes. The same C-123s were then used to complete post-war cargo missions until 1982. When medical complications, often associated with exposure to Agent Orange, plagued the service personnel who had completed these post-Vietnam missions, they expressed concerns of possible toxic chemical exposure only to be refuted by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA has stated that the amount of dried residues of chemical herbicides and dioxins present in the C-123s after the war would not have led to dangerous exposure levels.
Yet, based on the report published in Environmental Research, entitled “Post-Vietnam Military Herbicide Exposures in UC-123 Agent Orange Spray Aircraft,” researchers have concluded that the VA has been wrong to deny disability compensation benefits to service members who have worked on the C-123s after Vietnam.
Senior author, Jeanne Mager Stellman/PhD of Columbia University, lead a group of respected researchers to test surface-wipe samples collected from decommissioned C-123 planes. Utilizing 3 different models, it has been concluded that dioxin levels in these planes were higher than permissible exposure. Service personnel completing missions on these planes were not only exposed to dangerous levels of chemical and dioxin contamination but it is now suspected their exposure levels were even higher than those suffered by personnel serving during the Vietnam War.
Senators from the Veterans Affairs Committee, the American Legion, and other veteran support groups are heeding the results in this new report and are calling upon the VA to finally extend disability benefits to those C-123 crew members that served post-Vietnam.
If you believe you have been exposed to Agent Orange contamination and have been denied your medical disability compensation claim from the VA contact our office for advice and a possible appeal.