Friday, May 16, 2014

Panel to study at Agent Orange residue exposure
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Veterans Affairs Department has long resisted disability claims from service members who said chemical residue left in Vietnam War-era planes that were used to spray defoliants over Southeast Asia caused them severe illnesses, including cancer.
This summer, a panel of independent scientists will try to determine whether those veterans could have been exposed to the toxins in defoliants, including Agent Orange, at a level that would be dangerous to their health.
If the panel, which hosts the first of a series of closed meetings and public hearings on May 15, finds a link, the service members could be eligible for tax-free disability compensation up to several thousand dollars a month.
That's something Wes Carter, a retired Air Force major, believes is long overdue.
"We've got some sick folks that are not allowed to go into the VA," said Carter, a former Oregon resident leading the crusade and who believes his prostate cancer and other disorders are due to his exposure to dioxin, a contaminant found in Agent Orange.
Carter served on C-123s in the Air Force Reserves as a medic from 1974 to 1980. The planes were used to spray millions of gallons of defoliants to destroy crops and eliminate jungle cover used by the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong.
The military stopped the spraying by early 1971 over concerns that some defoliants contained compounds harmful to humans. The fleet returned stateside, but Air Force Reserve units continued to fly them on cargo and medevac missions until the early 1980s.


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