Friday, March 6, 2015

Agent Orange benefits announcement for C-123 reservists delayed
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 Springfield, Mass.
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 to dioxin.
The VA is expected to announce that benefits will be extended to all C-123 veterans who are eligible.

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