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CML and Agent Orange


Ken Gardner

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I was diagnosed with CML over 15 years ago, when I was in my mid 50’s. I served in the Navy from1967 to 1971 and was in Viet Nam for roughly 2 1/2 years in that period.  I applied for disability related to CML and Agent Orange, when first diagnosed. The claim was denied because CML was not on the list of Agent Orange caused diseases.  Last year I filed a second claim and that was quickly denied for the same reason. For the record, there is a veteran that was granted disability benefits for exposure to Agent Orange resulting in CML. I believe that veteran served on land. Since I served in the Navy, I’m wondering if my original claim was denied based on my service was not “ land based” rather than exposure to Agent Orange  I understand now that a judge has over ruled the VA from denying benefits for Navy veterans and that the VA will not challenge that ruling. I am hoping that this will perhaps result in more discussions pert

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Have you checked to VA's most recent AO ships list?

It should be here , in the AO forum as I post the new lists as they come out-

I dont understand something- were you incountry Vietnam as well as aboard ship during the Vietnam War.

You are right- this case is a CML award:

ORDER Entitlement to service connection for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is granted.

https://www.va.gov/vetapp15/Files2/1510466.txt

There also was a CAVC remanded case, for a widow of a AO CML veteran - but the remand was for VCAA violation-

I will try to find more but the BVA case above shows you exactly what you need as evidence:

The veteran was incountry Vietnam.

These are key issues of why the VA awarded.

"The Board notes that in a December 2012 VA examination report and January 2013 addendum, a VA physician concluded that it is less likely than not that the Veteran's CML is related to his military service, to include exposure to herbicides. A December 2013 VHA opinion by a VA physician specializing in hematology and oncology, Dr. M.D.B. reached the same conclusion, noting that she had reviewed the relevant medical literature and consulted with a CML expert at a neighboring cancer institution before determining that there was insufficient evidence of an association between benzene and the development of CML. However, in support of his claim, the Veteran has submitted internet articles discussing the relationship between benzene and CML. He also submitted several letters and records from Dr. N.L., a private oncologist. In October 2009 and January 2010 treatment records, Dr. N.L. noted that he and the Veteran discussed the Veteran's disability and VA compensation, including VA research finding that there was no clear association between herbicide exposure and myeloid leukemias. Although Dr. N.L. said that he believed additional studies were underway, he did not contradict VA's findings or otherwise provide a positive medical nexus opinion. However, in an October 2010 letter, Dr. N.L. found that "It is my opinion that his chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is possibly related to Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam." Then in a January 2012 letter, Dr. N.L. opined that it was at least as likely as not that the Veteran's CML was caused by exposure to herbicides in service, noting that CML was linked to benzene exposure and benzene was part of the chemical structure of Agent Orange. He further noted that the Veteran had no other risk factors that would predispose him to CML. In February 2015, the Veteran submitted another medical opinion from a private oncologist, Dr. D.M.K., who concluded that the Veteran's exposure to Agent Orange is at least as likely as not the cause of his chronic myelogenous leukemia, as there is medical literature that supports that there is an increased risk of CML with benzene exposure and the Veteran was exposed to herbicides containing benzene in service. "

The veteran had strong independent medical opinions.

Are you willing to obtain a strong independent medical opinion?

It might be costly-but if you have a private oncologist treating you , it might even be free......dont know-

The opinion has to follow the IMO criteria here in our IMO forum.

I obtained 2 IMOs for my AO DMII death claim. It was awarded by the BVA. My husband had not been properly diagnosed and treated by VA for DMII. It was a contributing factor to his death. He had been incountry Vietnam, but hopefully- your ship might be on the VA AO ship's list- and if you served on that ship on or after those dates, the VA will presume exposure.

"I understand now that a judge has over ruled the VA from denying benefits for Navy veterans and that the VA will not challenge that ruling. I am hoping that this will perhaps result in more discussions pert"

Indeed it will, I am a member of the original Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association, (John Rossie-President  and did some radio shows with him here in hadit's radio forum.)and get my info from those who are in the know on the bill before congress now-

will post any info on that as I get it---

what ship were you on ?

 

 

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https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/docs/shiplist.docx

The USS Safeguard appears as exposed to Agent Orange at Gahn Rai Bay and Mekong River Delta  in December 1965 on this list.

I hope you read the initial pages of this link carefully because maybe you also had been in a Brown water vessel-

any small landing craft, pontoon, boat ect etc thst left the ship and went into Brown Water ( tributary river water within Vietnam land mass),

Do you have your complete SMRS from the Mil as well as your inservice personnel records?

 

 

 

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I think she  anchored in Danang- dont know when-try this list too.

https://www.propublica.org/article/help-propublica-research-more-than-700-navy-ships-that-served-in-vietnam

When I get home from church I will see if I can find more on the ship- she surely has her own web site------

USS Safeguard

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The ship anchored in DaNang the majority of time while in Viet Nam. I was aboard in late 1967 until February of 1971. 

I also was in transit at the DaNang military base roughly a week while waiting for the ship to come into DaNang. 

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You are listed here as crew:

http://www.hullnumber.com/crew1.php?cm=ars-25   in 1968

Lots of the sailors there have email access,if needed for a buddy statement.

lots have email addy there

The ship's members have a Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/46137441514/

Your best bet is to make sure the benezene factor is in the claim, as within the above BVA grant:

In February 2015, the Veteran submitted another medical opinion from a private oncologist, Dr. D.M.K., who concluded that the Veteran's exposure to Agent Orange is at least as likely as not the cause of his chronic myelogenous leukemia, as there is medical literature that supports that there is an increased risk of CML with benzene exposure and the Veteran was exposed to herbicides containing benzene in service. "

Now is the time to also claim any other potential SC disability you might have.

Do you get, or did you ever receive Social Security Disability solely for the CML?

 

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Thanks- there is plenty under Google for U.S.S. Safeguard ARS 25.I only found the BVA decision above so far with  CML in it- but there are 70 under BVA  search for U.S.S. Safeguard. I only read a few -one vet claimed PTSD from when the ship took on water that killed a sailor-

In any event, the IMO/IME forum here can give you a good idea of what you need...a medical rationale that is similar to the one in the above decision, also the IMO/IME doctor should state there is no other etiology but for your exposure to AO, to cause you CML, and also the doctor could use the same evidence in the decision, and must factor in the benzene connection. He/She should bolster their opinion with any strong medical treatises or abstracts of studies that would support your claim.

A good onocologist would have stuff probably more recent than what is mention in the BVA decision above.

Since your ship anchored in Danang it is almost impossible to assume that the sailors had not been contaminated by AO. But I am not a doctor-  but  I am an expert in AO claims.

Even the mail was surely contaminated, as well as the veteran who got the mail from Danang and brought it to the ship,contaminating other sailors . My husband was in Danang 65-66- he had two AO disabilities.

Danang Harbor vets have had a heck of a time with VA so far-but many of them were not anchored right at Danang-

and the maneuvers my husband was on, brought him into the jungles, and he was soaked by AO at one point from overhead planes.

The VA AO ships list focused on 1965- the link that has your name in the roster has a 1968 date- I dont see that as a problem. Could that be someone else with the same name?

Procopio should cover you as well as the fact that the ship is on the VA AO ship's list.And maybe the recent AO bill as well- if it ever gets through Congress.

I see your main issue to be establishing the medical nexus.

We have had at least one CML vet here at hadit- and one might have been on the 1997 -2005 hadit board. searchable under CML

I found a widow claiming CML in her husband at the CAVC but the claim was remanded. Her name is Sarah Hupp as I recall and that remand changed the VCAA for all of us widows..( the Hupp provision to Pelegrino).but I do not know the outcome of the claim. Maybe I can find her lawyer and ask them.

 

The only problem I see, is that you will probably deal with some RO contracted  C & P examiners and raters who are incompetent.Half of them have no idea what CML is- even their docs- only a oncologist would understand this disability.And probably more than half of them cannot understand the nexus between CML and the other cancer AO presumptives.

Your oncologist might be willing to prepare a strong IMO for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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Hi Ken & all...

Like Ken, I'm in a very similar situation, having been diagnosed with CML about 9 years back.  Since then, I've been on the roller coaster of high deductible healthcare plans, researching medication coverage for tier 4 chemo meds including mfg copay with funding caps, etc.. Recently, I picked up VA Healthcare when I had to leave my semi/retired full time employment status to reduce my income enough to get VA healthcare coverage.  Sad, but true cycle of events. In parallel, I began researching the relationship of Trychloretholene (TCE), the actual mil spec PD-680 and Chronic Myeloid   Leukemia (CML) Apparently, there is a great deal of data on the topic of PD-680, TCE and Leukemia. 

I'm at the beginning stage - meeting with a VSO soon to begin the claim process.  I am also aware of the fact that I can expect an initial denial, followed by the need to appeal.  I've learned about numerous websites supporting Veterans such as Stateside Legal.com, Hadit.com, VAWatchdog.com, and others. 

All of that said, I am very interested in hearing for anyone who went through the VA Claim process with Leukemia related to "TCE". 

Thanks in advance.

With great respect,

MountainGuyz... (Bill)

 

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I served in Vietnam from July 1970 to July 1971. I was stationed in CuChi for about 7 months. I was a combat medic and service was base camp and field rotations. When in the field I was responsible for spraying some type of defoliant around the perimeter of the base camp. I am not sure if this stuff was agent orange but believe it was so I may have had indirect and direct exposure to the stuff! I was diagnosed with CML in July of 2001. Checked with VA about disability and was told CML was not on the list. I have been getting meds from VA for almost 19 years.

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Philip:

CML due to AO has been granted in a few cases:

"ORDER

Entitlement to service connection for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is granted."  

https://www.va.gov/vetapp15/Files2/1510466.txt

Sounds like what you sprayed ( if it altered the environment of weeds, grass etc within a day or two, was in fact Agent Orange. In any event your incountry service exposed you to AO no matter what your MOS was.

(CUCHI- my daughter was in the tunnels ( tourist)some time ago and that experience was enlightening for her and me-

the tunnels  were pretty sophisticated as to the electric and the ventilation)

Did you file a formal claim and then get denied, or was the info (Checked with VA about disability and was told CML was not on the list). from some VSO or Peggy:

(Peggy is what we call the VA  800#)

The case above will give you some idea of the evidence you need for this claim.

 

"

 

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The perimeters were sprayed with AO to keep down the brush for visibility of the EN as well as the Tropical jungles they were in.

They dumped it on my husband after a close pass over a jungle he had maneuvers in. 2-3 days later the whole jungle area was gone.

They also sprayed it around Headquarters and offices .

https://community.hadit.com/topic/69514-peggy-for-newbees/

I didnt think I would be able to be here today- or even this whole week- but glad I saw your post.

Agent Orange has been the most important issue of my life since 1991.

My husband died from 2 AO disabilities as well as death by VA.(FTCA/1151)

We have lots of info on AO in our Agent Orange Forum here.

Blue Water Navy vets also, if they served within 12 miles off the coast of Vietnam, during the War,and have any AO presumptives can now  attain AO comp for it....whether they had one boot on ground Vietnam or not.  Plenty info here on that as well.

 

 

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