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Agent Orange time-bomb went off ...


WomanMarine
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Question

First off I am a Vietnam ERA vet and never served in VN nor the blue waters of VN. My AO contact came from MCAS El Toro and it hit me like a time-bomb!

Currently I am 90% P&T which mostly stems to my R knee and an injury I received in the Corps. However I have had issues that are now surfacing that are not from my knee, but I believe because of my contact with TCE. 

I was the 'first' woman flight crew capt., although I had the duties, women did not have an 'official' MOS as such. Never-the-less I came into contact with cleaning solvents for jet parts. As well it is widely known that we sprayed the flight decks with AO to get rid of vegetation.  

Hypertension was diagnosed by the VA in 1998. In 2009 I started having heart issues, and had to have a stint. And again in 2012 another stint. In late 2017 I had a heart attack and early in 2018 I had a disc go out and render me helpless causing my drop foot.

The V.A., allowed me to see an outside cardiologist, who concurred I had the heart attack and scheduled me for a stress test, which I did not pass. Subsequently, in August, I was hospitalized and had a quad-by-pass. Just this month, the by-pass failed and I had to have 8 stints placed. This last week, because of no comms between VA and public hospital (choice), I went home without meds and had another heart attack, needing one of those stints replaced. 

I have an upcoming C&P for the issues attached. I had included my heart and hypertension, due to my AO contact, who btw I was informed by a V.A. x-ray tech to check my duty stations for AO contamination ... NOT MY PRIMARY! 😡 

Since 2018 I have to have the assistance of another person to get around. I was enrolled VR independent Living Program, who sent out an Industrial Psychologist to my home who, among other recommendations suggested I needed Aid and Attendance as well as someone to come in and help with household chores.

Since my heart is new, I have had to file a Supplemental claim to these additional claims. I opened it with 'new' evidence from my cardiologist which clearly states I have Ischemic heart disease.

Curious if folks that did not serve in VN get AO connected?

Any idea where I might fall on the SMC chart? That is so difficult to figure. I have loss of use of my left foot, as I have been told that a 'foot drop' diagnosis hold that place. I have degenerative disc disease and am just now seeing a Neurologist, my accident occurred 02/2018 and left me paralyzed for two weeks and the residual foot.

I am not sure how they would rate my heart, or if they would, as I did not serve in VN.

Thoughts?

 

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Edited by WomanMarine
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I am unable to answer your questions, however, here are three references you can use regarding agent orange and El Toro.  Best of luck to you

https://www.bva.va.gov/docs/VLR_VOL4/AuthorsCopies3-AllisonLin.PDF

 

https://www.va.gov/vetapp10/files2/1017816.txt

 

http://agentorangezone.blogspot.com/2010/08/el-toros-unwanted-legacy-toxic.html

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In addition to your possible contamination exposure to Agent Orange there are veterans who have been exposed to some of  the other chemicals you have mentioned used to clean aircraft parts and are known to cause delayed long term disabilities and they have been service connected for this chemical exposure.  They usually have to prove by medical and or other documentation such as MOS, duty station orders, and time and place of exposure, etc. as this may not be presumptive such as AO in Vietnam.

Because of the many and varied illnesses you have for a claim I suggest you try to find (if possible) an accredited and motivated full time professional VSO (DAV, VFR, Legion, etc) that are located at VA regional offices and are paid full time for this assistance at no cost to you.  If you are suffering from any king of spinal, bone or paralysis and maybe your loss of use of limbs you can try  the excellent Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) that are also found at the VAROs to represent you.  If you live far away from a VARO you can use email, fax, phone etc.  Never send any original documents or your only one copy to the VA or a VSO.

An intense Google search usually finds many answers I am looking for including complicated veteran disability issues and I will check my reliable large NVLSP manual on Veterans disability claims for you soon.

My above information is not legal advice but based on my 30 years of personal experience filing claims and appeals for myself.

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Ok WomanMarine I just did a 10 minute search of Board of Veterans Appeals decisions from 2010 to present day and there are many hundreds of decisions granting veterans service connection for disease due to chemical exposures in service to include cleaning chemicals, etc.

Here is just one decision that involved cleaning liquids that may be helpful to you and there are many more.

Citation Nr: 18145729 Decision Date: 10/30/18 Archive Date: 10/29/18"

Go to the VA board of Veterans Appeals website and on right side of page are links to other info and bottom link says Search the Board Decisions and then the search page will have the search boxes for you to input your search criteria and then select the years you want to search.  If you know the technical names of the cleaning chemicals this will make your search easier and faster.  Good luck and please acknowledge receipt of this info as a courtesy.

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Of course, if you can figure out "what VA will do", then you might just as well figure out what numbers will come up next in the lottery, as figuring both out would be equally frustrating. 

Since you apparently are already at 100 percent, you should be focusing on SMC.   

You suggested that you need A and A.  Well that suggests SMC L, assuming a doctor will document this.  Now there are different levels of A and A, mostly depending upon the level of care you need.  

You also posted "loss of use" of a foot.  This suggests SMC K.  

So, provided that you have applicable documentation and you meet the criteria, "going for" SMC K and SMC L would appear at least plausable.  

If I recall, SMC L is "about" an additional 700 per month and SMC K, is about an extra 110 per month or so.  So, you should definately seek SMC.  Of course, I have not read your file so I have no idea if you qualify for higher levels of SMC L or not.  Generally the higher levels of SMC are for "higher levels" of care.  This normally means you need a nurse, as opposed to jus someone to help with "non nurse" stuff.  

Remember, the regulations specifically state that, just because a "family member" provides Aid and Attendance, they can not deny you A and A, simply because you hire a family member to take care of you.  

If you were awarded SMC L and SMC K, and you are a single Vet, with no dependents, that would put your total comp from VA at just a tad under 4000 monthly:  or 3975.21 according to my math.  If you have dependents, then you should get more:

https://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-benefits/special-monthly-compensation-smc-tables.html

By the way, SMC is "inferred".  This means VA should award you retro "back to the date you first became eligible", regardless of the date "you applied".  

 

Edited by broncovet
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"Curious if folks that did not serve in VN get AO connected?"

Yes they have. James Cripps, a member here, is the first AO CONUS veteran ( Fort Gordon) exposed due to his MOS.Somewhere in the AO forum here I have posted other AO awards to vets who did not serve in Vietnam.

As Dustoff 11 mentioned there are countless decisions at the BVA web site regarding AO and toxins, as well as 151 decisions re: AO and El Toro,uner a search.

 

The BVA case Dustoff posted,  unfortunately is an award  to a widow-but if you do a search yourself you might find awards to El Toro vets due to exposures either to AO or to toxins.

The BVA case does reveal exactly what information is needed by VA to succeed in this type of claim.

In part it states:

"The appellant contends that the Veteran's death from CLL was caused by his in-service exposure to various chemicals while stationed at El Toro, California. An August 1966 entrance examination and October 1970 discharge examination were negative for any relevant abnormalities. The remaining service treatment records were negative for any complaints, diagnoses or treatment for CLL. Service personnel records indicate that the Veteran's military occupational specialty was Air Freight Operations Man. He was stationed at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) from approximately February 1967 to May 1967 and from July 1969 to October 1970."

the widow had  three Independent Medical Opinions:

 

"A July 2004 opinion from Dr. D. K. noted that he had been 
treating the Veteran for CLL, a form of non-Hodgkin's 
lymphoma.  The physician opined that this cancer was related 
to the Veteran's exposure to Benzene and to Agent Orange.

An April 2008 opinion from Dr. D. K. noted that the Veteran's 
prognosis was extremely poor and that he was considered 
terminal.  The physician opined that his CLL is most likely 
than not due to his Agent Orange exposure."

and

 

":The Veteran served at El Toro MCAS for more than one year and worked in Air Freight Operations. His death certificate indicated that his causes of death included CLL and small lymphocytic lymphoma. The October 2009 opinion from the Veteran's treating VA physician, the only competent medical opinion of record, establishes a nexus between the Veteran's cause of death and his service. This opinion is buttressed by the April 1991 CDC report which confirmed the burning of hazardous materials at base landfills during the Veteran's service at El Toro MCAS.

 

ORDER Entitlement to DIC on the basis of service connection for the Veteran's cause of death is granted."

The opinions that mentioned Agent Orange were not strong enough, and the widow had not proven AO exposure, but the CDC report as well as the strong link between Benzene and cancer , well known in the medical community:

https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/benzene/basics/facts.asp

plus the veteran's exposure to hazardous waste, confirmed that there was no other etiology or cause, for his CLL, but for his Military service MOS.

I have use the BVA search feature since it came on line.

https://www.index.va.gov/search/va/bva.jsp

It certainly helped me succeed in CUEs I have filed as well as succeed in my most important issue of all-

Direct SC death of my husband due to AO DMII, and never diagnosed or treated by the VA, even though his VA medical records revealed DMII.

I had already been awarded 1151 DIC and FTCA settlement under other VA malpractice but my daughter, a veteran, insisted I should re open on direct SC death basis. After a year or more of not wanting to deal with them again, I did what she said, and after reviewing the medical records etc again,I knew this was a valid claim and I got 3 IMos and won at the BVA.

Nothing is impossible!  But the work involved in that was more difficult than my initial wrongful death claim.

In your case ,Ischemic heart disease can certainly be attributed to AO exposure, but that might be more difficult to prove than trying to prove it came from toxic exposures.

Benzine for example has an association to CVD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5590846/

 

 

 

 

https://www.va.gov/vetapp10/files2/1017816.txt

:

 

 

Dustoff 11 is referring to this regulation:

 

"C-123 Airplanes and Agent Orange Residue

Fairchild C-123K Provider, U.S. Air Force

Fairchild C-123K Provider
U.S. Air Force

Some Air Force Reservists who were crew members on C-123 Provider aircraft, formerly used to spray Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, have raised health concerns about exposure to residual amounts of herbicides on plane surfaces.

Responding to these concerns, VA asked the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) (formally known as the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to study possible exposure and increase in adverse health effects in C-123 crew members.

HMD's scientific report on C-123 contaminated aircraft

HMD released its report, Post-Vietnam Dioxin Exposure in Agent Orange-Contaminated C-123 Aircraft, Jan. 9, 2015. According to the report, from 1972 to 1982, approximately 1,500 to 2,100 Air Force Reserve personnel trained and worked on C-123 aircraft that previously had been used to spray herbicides, including Agent Orange, in Vietnam. Those aircraft were used for military airlift, medical transport, and cargo transport operations in the United States and internationally.

HMD found that Reservists who served as flight crew (pilot, navigator, flight engineer, and loadmaster), ground maintenance crew, and aero-medical personnel had regular contact with the aircraft, and would have experienced some exposure to chemicals from herbicide residue. The report determined that it is possible that this exposure contributed to some adverse health effects.

How Reservists may have been exposed

TCDD, the toxic substance in Agent Orange, may be inhaled as an aerosol or ingested by contaminated food or water or from hand-to-mouth transfer.

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Air Force used C-123 aircraft to spray Agent Orange to clear jungles that provided enemy cover in Vietnam. At the end of the spraying campaign in 1971, the remaining C-123 planes were reassigned to reserve units in the U.S. for routine cargo and medical evacuation missions spanning the next 10 years."

https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/locations/residue-c123-aircraft/index.asp

 

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This news story appear to be the same deceased veteran, whose widow succeeded in the above BVA claim:

https://www.veteranstodayarchives.com/2010/09/06/el-toro-marine-dead-from-chemical-exposure/

Although this article is old they have reference at the bottom to a web site that hopefully would have more info.

Also there are two Facebook web sites:

https://www.facebook.com/irvinemadness/

https://www.facebook.com/geinvestigationsaz/posts/mcas-el-toros-tcepce-contamination-purpose-is-to-pass-on-a-heads-up-to-marines-s/162501794030/

I dont do Facebook so cant read them.

I searched the BVA under Burn Pits El Toro and found this :

"The Veteran is currently diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the right head and neck, with associated residuals, and he was exposed to environmental chemicals during the regular course of his in-service administrative duties while stationed at El Toro in California. A radiation oncologist, in a September 2015 opinion, opined that it was more likely than not that the in-service environmental contaminant/chemical exposure caused the Veteran's carcinoma and associated residuals. Resolving reasonable doubt in the Veteran's favor, the Board finds that squamous cell carcinoma of the right head and neck, with associated residuals, was incurred in active service. 38 U.S.C.A. § 5107; 38 C.F.R. § 3.102."

 

"As noted above, the Board finds that the Veteran was exposed to environmental chemical hazards while stationed at El Toro in California. VA received a November 2012 news article discussing the possibility of chemical contamination at El Toro entitled "Dioxin, TCE Drums, U235 and El Toro's Panhandle." The article addressed how in 1999 El Toro was closed, at least in part, due to soil and ground contamination. Activities at the base, including the use of hydraulic fluids, were found to have generated harmful waste residues that seeped into the soil. There were also four landfills located on the base which burned solid waste, oil, paint residues, flammable fluids, jet fluid, industrial solvents, and aviation gasoline."

https://www.va.gov/vetapp15/files6/1552324.txt

If you can prove that your IHD is directly due to your exposure to burn pits, or by other means,due to your MOS, this would be a good case for service connection, however I believe it would need a very strong IMO/IME to support the rationale that your IHD developed due to toxic exposure.

 

 

 

This site is geared to civilian exposures at El Toro but has some links that might help.

https://www.civilianexposure.org/el-toro-marine-corps-air-station-el-toro-california/

And this site from EPA lists the toxins at El Toro:

"EPA has identified the chemical substances (i.e., hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants) listed below as contaminants of concern (COCs) for the site. COCs are the chemical substances found at the site that EPA has determined pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment. These are the substances evaluated by EPA to be addressed by cleanup actions at the site."

https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/SiteProfiles/index.cfm?fuseaction=second.contams&id=0902770

 

 

 

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I wonder if we all went to all that work for nothing??????????

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4 minutes ago, Dustoff 11 said:

I wonder if we all went to all that work for nothing??????????

Sorry, my laptop died and have to communicate on this little Kindle. 🙄

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3 hours ago, Berta said:

"C-123 Airplanes and Agent Orange Residue

Fairchild C-123K Provider, U.S. Air Force

Fairchild C-123K Provider
U.S. Air Force

Some Air Force Reservists who were crew members on C-123 Provider aircraft, formerly used to spray Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, have raised health concerns about exposure to residual amounts of herbicides on plane surfaces.

Responding to these concerns, VA asked the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) (formally known as the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to study possible exposure and increase in adverse health effects in C-123 crew members.

HMD's scientific report on C-123 contaminated aircraft

HMD released its report, Post-Vietnam Dioxin Exposure in Agent Orange-Contaminated C-123 Aircraft, Jan. 9, 2015. According to the report, from 1972 to 1982, approximately 1,500 to 2,100 Air Force Reserve personnel trained and worked on C-123 aircraft that previously had been used to spray herbicides, including Agent Orange, in Vietnam. Those aircraft were used for military airlift, medical transport, and cargo transport operations in the United States and internationally.

HMD found that Reservists who served as flight crew (pilot, navigator, flight engineer, and loadmaster), ground maintenance crew, and aero-medical personnel had regular contact with the aircraft, and would have experienced some exposure to chemicals from herbicide residue. The report determined that it is possible that this exposure contributed to some adverse health effects.

How Reservists may have been exposed

TCDD, the toxic substance in Agent Orange, may be inhaled as an aerosol or ingested by contaminated food or water or from hand-to-mouth transfer.

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Air Force used C-123 aircraft to spray Agent Orange to clear jungles that provided enemy cover in Vietnam. At the end of the spraying campaign in 1971, the remaining C-123 planes were reassigned to reserve units in the U.S. for routine cargo and medical evacuation missions spanning the next 10 years."

https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/locations/residue-c123-aircraft/index.asp

 

The C-123 flew into El Toro bringing our boys back from Nam ... 😢

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I believe if I am correct that in very recent years Agent Orange benefits have been approved for veterans who worked on or cleaned these aircraft after their return to stateside.   Broncovet and Berta have excellent info on the entire Agent Orange issue more than I.  A good Google search along with other search engines should reveal this up to date info.

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I know of at least two Marines who won their claims before the VA, for AO exposure at Subic Bay, Philippines.

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2013/07/09/559030/10039531/en/Two-Marine-Veterans-Unite-Decades-Later-to-Win-VA-Appeals-for-Exposure-to-Agent-Orange-in-Subic-Bay-Philippines.html

Both were there around the same time as my husband was. My husband, before he died, did mention leaking barrels on the pier and at or near the Armoury. He said the stuff got on their boots, etc. He did not mention AO, just that the stuff smelt. It was not till after his death that I found out about the AO/Subic Bay link.

I have not filed for AO exposure, that is on the back burner. Currently I am battling with the VA over his exposure to the toxic water at Camp Lejuene.

The VA and the US govt has denied that AO was ever at Subic Bay or any other part of the Philippines, however there was some limited testing of AO done there. I also have reason to believe that AO was shipped there from New Zealand. I was born in New Zealand and was living there when some of the AO inquiries took place. There was more than one Kiwi VN vet, including the VN Veteran's Assoc president , that spoke out about it. The MP for New Plymouth also confirmed it, but then backed off, I think from govt, etc pressure. He has made oblique comments in email though.

The Dr George Mason, in the article below, was a scientist at Watkin Dow during the time that this was taking place. The other scientific Dr Peter Hayward was my former brother in law and worked there with Dr Mason, before going into business with them. Neither of them are as yet confirming that AO was sent from there, however they are not denying it either. 

https://i.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/118430310/new-year-honours-dr-george-mason---the-environmentalist-whos-donated-more-than-5m

Good luck with your claim..

 

Edited by KiwiKaren
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UPDATE: C&P completed.

I think it went well ... Fortunately I was in a 'flare-up' and it was noted.

I was also told that the C&P docs cannot refer to it as Agent Orange ... It has to be referred to as a 'herbicide' ...

Doc was also impressed that I survived so many heart proceedures ... 🙄 And she sided that the vets should be told if VA knows they have been exposed ... to a herbicide.

Fingers crossed on the SAH grant as I want to build a 'Dude Ranch' for 'herbicide' survivors ... I have a social worker coming to my home this month for VR ILP. My five acres sits on an 18 acre private lake. Pretty sure I will be 100% after this last C&P and would like to setup a non-profit to help victims of 'herbicide' exposure. Also checking out the V.A. medical 'Foster' home program. 😎 It only makes sense for my particular situation, as I live alone am and pretty sure I will be getting Aid and Attendence as it has been suggested by my last ILP doctor.  It only makes sense as one can do just as much for two or three 🤗

https://www.va.gov/GERIATRICS/pages/Medical_Foster_Homes.asp

Edited by WomanMarine
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One other note ... ISCHEMIC HEART DISEASE

The conversation about AO and herbicide was brought up because of me asking my Cardiologist to put in his letter to my primary that I suffered from ISCHEMIC HEART DISEASE. He laughed at me and said "of course you suffer from IHD' ... I told him I knew but V.A. would not put it in writing. My letter starts off ... Due to your ISCHEMIC HEART DISEASE ... 

VA is going to love dealing with 'outside' drs ... 😜

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Wow, that's crazy. Let's see... I had a heart attack and was diagnosed with coronary artery disease (CAD). My life was saved by a non-VA hospital. The day after I was released from the non-VA hospital, I went to see my VA primary care doc and brought my discharge notes. They entered CAD into my master problem list promptly.

Medical evidence speaks for itself. How in the world are they supposed to know if the treatment they provide might be contraindicated for a condition if they don't open their eyes to the evidence in front of them? Here's the irony. Even knowing this, they continued to prescribe medication that was contraindicated for CAD. Luckily, it made me ill and I was able to make the connection before it killed me. They should have done this proactively.

Glad you are not giving up.

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V.A. has scheduled another C&P for my heart. This time it is with a V.A. examiner who was unaware of my recent heart issues. This will be interesting, as these folks, in the past, have doubted my issues. 

Prior to that I have a Voc Rehab Independent Living counselor coming to my home. I am trying to get a SAH grant to finish building my home. I would like to add on a few extra bedrooms and become a Medical Foster Care home for veterans that have Agent Orange related issues. I think my property is a peaceful place to make ones 'last stand' ... so to speak. 😎

Lake2.JPG

Edited by WomanMarine
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WomanMarine I wish you good luck on your quest for a VA grant for your "Dude Ranch." Why not go for it. Asknod may have some advise on applying for the grant; message him.

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Well got my anwser from VA ☹️

"Per VAVBA/CO/211/AGENT ORANGE 1/9/2020:
DoD HAS NOT identified any location on El Toro Marine Corps Air Station,California, where Agent Orange was used, tested, stored, or transported."

Wow I hate the VA 😕

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WomanMarine That's a bummer. Don't throw in the towel. More and more info on sites is coming out now. Keep at it. It is just going to take longer. "You don't lose until you quit trying." Keep researching. You're not going to give up now.

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I just found an additional El Toro award:

Not AO but  TCE.

 

"CONCLUSIONS OF LAW 1. The criteria to establish service connection for prostate cancer have been met. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1131, 5107 (2012); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303 (2018).

2. The criteria to establish service connection for a heart condition have not been met. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1131, 5107 (2012); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303 (2018)."

The decision reveals why the heart disease was correctly denied.

The veteran was awarded SC for his prostate cancer due to this:

"Under these circumstances, the Board finds that the Veteran was not exposed to herbicide agents in service. Accordingly, the Board will not address the Veteran’s contentions related to herbicide agent exposure further."

"Prostate Cancer Nevertheless, the Veteran contends that his prostate cancer developed as a result of his exposure to toxic chemicals while stationed at MCAS El Toro between 1984 and 1987."

(The veteran had given two separate theories of entitlement- AO and then Toxic Chemicals.)

"Based on the information available, it is inconclusive whether the Veteran was exposed to contaminated groundwater at MCAS El Toro. Nevertheless, because both EPA and ATSDR data shows that TCE was detected in groundwater surrounding MCAS El Toro, the Board affords the Veteran the benefit of the doubt and finds that the Veteran was exposed to TCE during service. Accordingly, the first and second Shedden elements are met. Therefore, the fundamental factual dispute in this case is whether the Veteran’s TCE exposure caused his prostate cancer. The record contains conflicting medical opinions. Nevertheless, based on the reasons explained below, to include a new positive nexus opinion, the Board finds a medical link between the Veteran’s prostate cancer and TCE exposure in this particular case."

Quotes from https://www.va.gov/vetapp19/files11/19187642.txt

VA decisions are not precedents, but they reveal  however, excellent ways that one can attain SC.

This is a superb decision and the veteran left No stone unturned.

 

 

 

Edited by Berta
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  • VA Watchdog

  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

    employment 2.jpeg

    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

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