The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has denied a rulemaking request from a Louisiana-based veterans advocacy group to cover veterans exposed to herbicides on Guam, American Samoa and Johnston Island.
According to Military Veterans Advocacy, Paul Lawrence, the undersecretary for benefits at the VA, claimed that the herbicides sprayed in central Pacific islands had been commercial rather than tactical herbicides.
"Lawrence's dismissal of herbicides as commercial rather than tactical is a distinction without a difference," said MVA Chairman and Director of Litigation John Wells. "The Government Accountability Office noted in a 2018 report that both commercial and tactical herbicides contain the chemicals 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D, which combine to make the deadly dioxin 2,3,7,8-TCDD."
Tactical herbicides include the infamous Agent Orange and other "rainbow" herbicides. There has been concerted interest over many years on whether Agent Orange had been used on Guam. A 2018 GAO report did not find evidence that the deadly herbicide was offloaded on island, but the report does acknowledge, through various military records, that Agent Orange components 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T had been used on Guam in commercial herbicides.
Herbicide 2,4,5-T was banned in the 1980s due to its toxicity.