An anticipated announcement regarding new Agent Orange benefits
for Air Force reservists who flew or worked on C-123 transport planes
in Pittsburgh and two other air bases in the 1970s has been delayed
until next week.
Allison Hickey, undersecretary of benefits for the VA, was expected
to hold a news conference on the issue Thursday in Washington.
But the event has been pushed back, probably to next Tuesday
or Wednesday, according to VA correspondence with Wes Carter of
Colorado, head of the C-123 Veterans Association.
Many of the huge C-123s were used in Vietnam to spray Agent
Orange defoliant, then sent back to the United States after the war for
use at the 911th air base in Pittsburgh, Rickenbacker Air Force Base
in Columbus and Westover Air Reserve Station outside of
About 2,100 crew members, flight nurses and mechanics who flew on
the planes from 1972 to 1982 have long maintained that the planes
were contaminated with dioxin, the toxic chemical in Agent Orange.
Reservists with various cancers and other health problems
are convinced Agent Orange residue is to blame and that they
should receive the same Agent Orange health care and disability benefits
that veterans who served in Vietnam get.
The VA has denied most of their claims over the years because the
Air Force insisted that the planes were decontaminated and that
Agent Orange residue could not become airborne.
But a report in January by the Institute of Medicine
found differently, concluding that C-123 reservists were likely exposed
The VA is expected to announce that benefits will be extended to all C-123 veterans who are eligible.