But it wasn’t until 2011 that the retired master sergeant learned he and fellow veterans of the Air Force Reserve’s 731st Tactical Airlift Squadron in Westover might have been exposed to traces of Agent Orange. Matte quickly looked up ailments designated by the Department of Veterans Affairs as linked to contact with the deadly herbicide.
“I'm sitting here thinking, ‘Jeez, I got about 10 of these myself,’ ” Matte, who recently had his left leg amputated, recalled in an interview.
It turns out those old planes were contaminated with toxic residue. Once they were retired for good, the Air Force even cordoned them off at a remote desert airstrip in Arizona and treated them as hazardous waste.
Despite growing evidence that the fliers were exposed to the poison, the VA is denying claims made by Matte and other veterans from the 731st Tactical Airlift Squadron, saying they are not eligible for special Agent Orange-related benefits mandated by Congress — health care as well as disability and survivor benefits.
READ MORE: http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2014/06/28/veterans-who-say-they-were-exposed-agent-orange-residues-planes-after-vietnam-are-fighting-for-recognition/B9duMp0erHLI44h1Q9udZM/story.html