Updated research aims to help Vietnam-era veterans who served in Guam ill from Agent Orange exposure obtain disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Last year, two veterans groups published a white paper citing research to support that "as likely as not," veterans who served on Guam from 1962 to 1975 met the legal standard for exposure to Agent Orange and other "dioxin-containing herbicides." Now, the groups -- National Veterans Legal Services Program and Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law -- have released updated research expanding that timeline to include veterans who served on Guam from 1958 to 1980.
"The conclusion was based on an exhaustive review conducted over nearly two years of government, private, archival, and oral history evidence of herbicide use in Guam during the Vietnam era," the groups said in a news release about the research. The February update includes new developments and information on herbicide use in Guam gathered after the original paper was published in May 2020, including "an EPA-directed soil sampling report published in July 2020 and recently issued decisions of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals."
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Tens of thousands of American troops served on Guam during the Vietnam War and, at the height of bombing operations during the conflict, more than three-quarters of all U.S. B-52 aircraft available for operations were based in Guam. The rapid buildup of U.S. airpower in Guam, along with climate conditions on the island, housing and water shortages and other challenges, prompted military leaders to work to prevent fires and control tropical growth using the herbicides.
“This white paper confirms the reports of countless veterans who served in Guam but whose claims the VA has wrongly rejected,” Bart Stichman, executive director of NVLSP, said at the time of the initial report's release. “It is time that the VA acknowledge the strong evidence of toxic herbicide exposure in Guam and care for veterans exposed.”